Luke 9: 43 – 50 Jesus predicts his death a second time

Luke 9: 43 – 50 Jesus predicts his death a second time

While everyone was marvelling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, ‘Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.’ But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and made him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’

‘Master,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us.’

‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’

*       *       *

Despite the fact that Jesus had already told his disciples that he was to suffer and die (Luke 9: 21 – 27) Luke says in this passage that when Jesus told them the second time, the disciples didn’t understand what he meant. “It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.” That’s very human, isn’t it? We tell ourselves that we don’t understand something but in reality we’re frightened that we understand it only too well.

If Jesus is going to be killed, the disciples will be leaderless and without a plan. They’ll probably be arrested and killed too. What good will that achieve? And what good will all this time spent with Jesus be, when daily life has been continuing around them? Of course they didn’t want to understand, they didn’t want to believe.

I know from training sessions that when we are faced with something new and difficult, there is a great temptation to go back to the old ways. They feel warm and comfortable. We know where we are with them. And that is what the disciples do now. Jesus has been leading them to the hard truths of what is to happen to him, but they go back to thinking that he will be establishing an earthly kingdom. All earthly kingdoms have a hierarchy, so the disciples will be ranked. I bet they’ve had this argument a dozen times! And I bet it feels reassuring! But it’s missing the point. It’s taking their eyes off Jesus and looking instead at the way the world works. It’s sin, and has the potential to disrupt God’s plan.

Jesus deals with it is a subtle way; he takes away the comfort of the old ways of thinking, while simultaneously teaching the disciples about the reality of God’s kingdom.

The disciples were thinking of status and power. They were thinking of a world where the respect people give you depends on what they can get from you. Tit for tat. Quid pro quo. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. So Jesus shows them a small child, someone who can give nothing at all, and who therefore has no status at all.

What you must do, Jesus was saying, is to welcome and to show respect even to those who have nothing to give you and cannot increase your prestige among men. ‘For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’ He overturns the disciples’ old, familiar habits of thought, and puts their focus back onto God’s plan.

I find this quite profound teaching. Jesus actually seems to be calling us to focus on him all the time. I confess that I find this difficult. When I think logically about it, I can see that to say I want to spend time away from Jesus suggests that I don’t like his company, or that I’m bored and want a change. That doesn’t say much for my faith or my imagination!

Finally, just a brief note about the last two verses. John wants to show Jesus that he is fully committed to God’s plan. ‘Master,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us.’

Once again we see wrong ideas about the kingdom of God.

‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’

Firstly, we are either for or against Jesus; there is no middle ground.

Secondly, we don’t know the detail of God’s plan. If someone is preaching and healing in Jesus’ name they are likely to be inspired by God.

Thirdly, God does not need us to defend his plan by condemning others; he needs us to implement his plan by prayer and faithful service.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Your plan is perfect, just as you are perfect. Please open my eyes to the beauty of your truth.

In Jesus name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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