Jesus has “set His face (has resolutely set out for) Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51. This verse begins with “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven,”. Notice that Luke did NOT emphasis the cross, but the ascension. The CROSS is the goal of Jesus for the payment of sins as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29),” but it is the RESURRECTION and subsequent ASCENSION that give us victory over the grave!
Peter ends yesterday’s teaching by telling the disciples that some of them “not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” 9:1. This event happens six days later on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James and John were with Jesus when heaven came down and mixed with earth (just like Eden). Jesus was transformed and Moses and Elijah showed up to talk with Him. The disciples were astonished, to say the least, and petrified! God the Father even showed up in a cloud (to keep the disciples from seeing Him and “leaving their earthly bodies behind”). WOW! We learn several things about heaven from this passage:
- We keep our earthly identities. Moses and Elijah did.
- We see the timeline in its entirety. Moses and Elijah knew what was coming and why. Of course, they had had visions of it while on earth, so no surprise there.
- The disciples knew intuitively who Moses and Elijah were. We will know everyone intuitively. “We shall know fully, even as we are fully known.” 1 Cor. 13:12
The kingdom of God came with power. With direction comes conviction; with conviction comes empowerment. Jesus talked with Moses (representative of the Law) and Elijah (representative of the Prophets) about upcoming events. God’s Presence and blessing was His conviction and empowerment. Why Moses and Elijah? See Matthew 5:17-18.
The Question of Elijah (11-13)- Malachi 4:5 tells us this: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” Jesus pretty much tells them that John the Baptist was Elijah. In fact, Matthew records Jesus telling the crowd that John was: “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” Matthew 11:13-14. Jesus then asked His own question, “Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer and be rejected?” (12). Jesus is referring to Isaiah 53:3, which says just that. Interesting note: If you ask a Jew this question, he will probably not have heard it before because their prayer books skip over chapter 53 about the Suffering Savior. Jesus was once again trying to redirect their thinking about what He was about to accomplish. They didn’t get it. It’s still the same today– although, more and more Jews are coming to Christ than ever before! And people are using Isaiah 53 to get their attention. Apocalyptic? Could be!
The Healing of the Possessed Boy- The nugget to pull out of this passage is in verses 21-24,
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Did Jesus not know how long? Sure! I think He was asking the father to examine how long he has waited for an answer to his prayers. Now that the chance for his son to be healed had arrived, he was still dealing with doubt and cynicism. “IF” is a big give-away. Jesus immediately calls him on it. The boy’s father answered wisely. Here’s the nugget: When our doubt and cynicism grow big in our lives, are we willing to put our faith and trust in Jesus? Are we willing to ask Jesus to help us with our unbelief? To give us first the desire and then the power to do His will (Phil. 2:13)? We grow during times like these.
Jesus’ Second Prediction- The disciples were still vying for position in Christ’s new kingdom. He tried to set them straight again. The first time, He called them to die to self and take up their cross and follow Him. This time, He called them to become servants, even slaves:
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us- Jesus was/is all about obedience (see John 14:23). If this person was being obedient to the Holy Spirit and casting out demons in Jesus’ name, then GREAT! What we must keep in mind is Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ The key is relationship. Everything points to knowing Him.
Causing to Stumble- This passage can be described as hyperbole. Here is how I break it down:
- If your hand causes you to stumble = what we do.
- If your foot causes you to stumble = were we go.
- If your eye causes you to stumble = what we see.
It’s better to do without some things in this life than to allow them to drag us down into sin and possibly hell.
Verse 49 is interesting. If our lives are “sweet-smelling sacrifices” to God, then we will have been salted on the altar:
- Exodus 30:35- Salt in incense;
- Leviticus 2:13- Salt in grain offerings;
- Numbers 18:19- Covenant of salt from the holy offerings.
Why salt? The more impure the salt was, the less effective it was. Jesus was asking them to remain pure and to keep each other pure by holding each other accountable. Great lesson here! Let us do the same! Have integrity even with family and friends. It’s important. How do we remain pure? By applying verses 43-47. Simple, right? EASY TO SAY; HARD TO DO. That’s why we need each other along with the Holy Spirit!