Luke 9:28-62 (NKJV)
28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. 30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His [c]decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.
37 Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. 38 Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. 40 So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the majesty of God.
But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, 44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.
46 Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”
49 Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Today’s reading covers several events that, at first glance, seem unconnected. After Jesus’ transfiguration His disciples are unable to cast out a demon, argue about who among them is the greatest, complain about those who act in Christ’s name without being of the Twelve, and want to retaliate against those who won’t receive their Lord. Then several double-minded men approach Jesus, desiring to be his disciples.
The thread that connects each of these events is the work of the devil. A demon possesses a boy and Jesus casts out the demon. The devil tempts the disciples to conceit and puffing themselves up over against their brothers. Jesus destroys this thinking by teaching humility. “He who is least among you all will be great.” The devil tempts the disciples to conceit against those whom Jesus hasn’t called to be His apostles and against those who refuse to receive Jesus. In all these temptations, the disciples forget the manner of spirit they are of. Jesus has called them to a spirit of service , humility, and gentleness. The devil tempted the doubled-minded at the end of the chapter to conceit as well, so that they imagined they could follow Christ on their own terms. But such double-mindedness makes one unfit for the kingdom of God, just as the desire to honor oneself over others makes one unfit for the kingdom.
The spirit of service, humility, and gentleness to which Jesus has called them is the spirit in which He serves us. “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” To save men’s lives from the power of the devil, He will be betrayed into the hands of men. There is no conceit in Jesus. Although He possesses divine glory as God’s only-begotten beloved Son, He humbles himself to the point of death so that He might atone for the world’s sins and destroy the works of the devil in those who repent of their sins and believe in Him. Receiving His humble service offered in the gospel, we put aside the temptation to conceit and humbly serve our neighbors as Christ serves us.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, destroy the subtle works of the devil in us, and create is us a single-minded spirit of service, humility, and gentleness toward others. Amen.