From OCS to Special Forces Training

Luke 9

Chapter eight closed with 9:1 as the next step in the training of the Apostles.

Jesus Models How to Assign an Internship

He provides the resources (1)

​Authority                         ​​​demons
​Power​​​​                               diseases

He assigns them the mission (2)

ProclaimKingdom of God (heaven on earth (Matt10:7)
PerformCasting out demons and healing diseases.
He provides operational instructions (3-6)

Matthew answers the question we have when we read these instructions. That question is, “Who was the support, house, and feed them?” (Matthew 10:13). So why does Luke not include this information? First, note that no gospel writer gives “all” the details of Jesus’ doings. As John said, “The world could not contain the books.” Each was selective in accordance with his purpose. Second, Luke is about the historical sequence. Hence, the fact of the internship was more important than all the details regarding it.
In the same manner, Luke includes the sidebar in verses seven through nine regarding Herod’s curiosity as a means of historical reference to this point in the life of Jesus.
Luke does not give us the length of time of this mission. However, given the instructions, it was more than a day and likely, at the minimum, a week.

Jesus, the Supervisor, Gathers Them for A Report (10)

Jesus launched the internship mission from the country of the Garasenes (8:36-39) and stayed there until their return to give their report (10). Luke gives no further details; he indicates that Jesus and the disciples left and moved on to Bethsaida (10).  The multitudes follow along the way, and Jesus continues to heal and teach (11). By the end of the day, they are between cities (12), and the disciples encourage Jesus the end the day and send the multitude away to find food.

Jesus’ Lesson Plan Leads to Scoring 100% on Exam 13-21

In chapter six (12-16), we noted that Jesus appointed the twelve as Apostles. As it were, up until this point, they were in OCS training, and this was their commissioning as the first officers in His kingdom. Jesus’ lesson plan for the next phase of their training began immediately (6:17) and continued through 9:21. If speaking of Jesus using a lesson plan seems strange to you, ask Google, “What is a lesson plan?” If you have never developed a lesson plan, it will be fascinating to realize how much you can learn from Jesus about teaching when you consider the modern conception of lesson plans.
During this time frame, the following components have been building towards the goal of these men grasping who Jesus is.
They have observed multiple pieces of evidence:

a. His sovereignty over the devil—casting out of demons.
b. His sovereignty over nature—he tells the water and wind to settle down.
c. His sovereignty over diseases—from withered hands made whole to hemorrhaging stopped.
d. His sovereignty to transfer his power and authority to them to accomplish the mission.
e. His sovereignty in creation—ex nihilo (creating out of nothing). He created food to feed 5000+ (the five loves and two fish were but visual aids of his creating from nothing.

The latter component of His lesson plan came about by ordering the Apostles to do the impossible, “You give them something to eat!” (13), which he follows by doing the impossible (14-17). Have you observed the progressive nature of His lesson plan? It begins with the power over the demonic (6:19) and ends with the impossible of creation out of nothing (9:16-17).

Now comes the quiz (18). Who do the multitudes say that I am? They report as he requested. He then follows up (another excellent pedagogical principle—asking questions that prepare the student to focus on the lesson plan’s goal. His follow-up question is, “Whom do you say that I am?” Again, Peter scores perfectly with “The Christ (Messiah) of God.”

This elicits an unexpected response from “The Christ.” He instructed them to tell no one the truth they had realized. Why, you might ask. His answer on other occasions fits here also, “My time has not yet come” (John 7:6).

The lesson plan is now concluding with the application to reality for these Apostles (and all who will follow Jesus (22-62).

Jesus Outlines the Implementation of the Lesson Plan 22-36

His Implementing the Father’s Plan 22

• Suffer many things
• Be rejected by the religious leadership
• Be killed
• Be raised from the dead
• His primary purpose in stating these necessities in implementing the Father’s plan, while being predictive, is more about setting up thier grasping of what being an Apostle will mean for them.

Apostles Implementing His Plan (23-26)

• Self-denial –deny self-interests
• Dedication –dedicated to God’s interests
• Have the eternal profit margin in view

Special forces training (27-32)

Jesus ends his teaching for the day by whetting their desire for more with this, “But I say to you truthfully, (we might say, let me tell you this, and you can count on it!) there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God.”

Luke continues the narrative, “And some eight days after these sayings, it came about…” (28). Since all the Apostles but Judas witnessed the reality of the resurrection, it is unlikely that he had his resurrection in view. Since James was martyred in 43 A.D., he had to refer to something before the church flourished into any visible, recognizable kingdom. And, since Luke immediately records the transfiguration, it seems logical that these men, just eight days later, experience this see or taste an affirmation of the kingdom of God.

These three men take the lead in implementing the great commission. Peter is the lead preacher at Pentecost (Acts 2:14). In Acts chapter three, Peter and John heal a lame man on the Temple steps (3:1-8). In Acts chapter twelve, we learn that Herod killed James with the sword. Yes, a deacon, Stephen was martyred in Acts chapter seven by those under the authority of Saul (Paul). However, Peter, James, and John are the “Special Forces” who take the lead in implementing the Great Commission. Hence, Jesus gives them exceptional training with this glimpse of the Kingdom of God (28-36) cap stoned by the affirmation of the Father, “This is My Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him!”

I have not been party to special forces training, but I have caught glimpses of such training in movies. As it were, trainees observe the “Moses and Elijah (s)” in their training. These servants of God emblemized the qualities Jesus outlined eight days earlier required of those who would implement His plan and who experienced the “profit” of eternal life. Jesus is fortifying these men to lead the charge in implementing the Great Commission.

They did report their experience even to other Apostles at this time, but they undoubtedlypondered the experience and drew upon it when the occasion for strength was upon them.

While this was a unique experience, we should not miss the idea, evidenced elsewhere in the lives of others, that Jesus continues to work in the lives of His people, preparing them through experiences unique to their lives and His work through them to accomplish that work.


Another Day of Life with Jesus 37-52

The next day his three-fold activities of training the twelve, teaching the crowd, and establishing His identity continue.

He casts out the demon (41)

This man brought his demon-possessed son to some of the disciples while they were on their internship mission, and they had failed to dispose of the demon. The rebuke Jesus expresses is not aimed at the disciples but at the nation of Israel (unbelieving and perverted generation). They had the entire Old Testament with the witness of all the prophets and the record of faithlessness for their enlightenment. Yet, they had perverted it, so they could not accept his clear witness (41).

Jesus returns the boy made whole to his father, and the crowd is amazed (42-43). So many in this crowd have been observing one amazing act of Jesus after another, yet they are surprised. They teach us a good lesson. We should not take the work of Jesus in the life of people casually but always be amazed. Yesterday I heard a testimony wherein the woman commented, “I don’t want even to contemplate where my life would be had Jesus not saved me!” I know her. She is still amazed, and her testimony elicited the same response in my heart as I said amen.

He teaches the Apostles (44-50)

Playing off his rebuke of Israel (40), Jesus warns the disciples not to be caught up in their perspective and behavior when the coming events in his life unfold (44). What transpires immediately teaches us another important lesson. His statement is not clear to them, the meaning not being immediately made clear to them; they made a grievous error. Rather than seek illumination, they turn to their own understanding (45). Instead, they speculate about its meaning for them (46).

This week, our Dr. Harry Reeder was killed in an auto accident. Like Jesus in this passage, God made a significant declaration in taking His servant home suddenly (not a small thing for any congregation but multiplied many times over for a flagship church of the PCA). Every individual member, and especially the leadership, need the instruction of Jesus to the Apostles in such a time as this less we fall into factions as did these Apostles (46).

He teaches two lessons. I would parse the first lesson this way. You, let God be God (48a). The second lesson is this. He who humbles himself to accept this child’s healing from my hand is prepared to be great in my kingdom (48b). Hence, Apostles, I choose you, and you can be great by recognizing that leadership comes through humility, not by vying for power.

Rather than the cue from Jesus to self-evaluate, John does what all of us tend to do when being put in a position to self-evaluate; he diverts attention to another’s failing (49). Jesus does not rebuke him but again takes the occasion to teach John a vital principle. It is essential to recognize that someone attempting to do good in the wrong way does not oppose you doing good in the right way (50)

On to Jerusalem and Lessons on the Way (51-62)

What follows is an exciting but curious happening. He sends some disciples ahead, likely the next village in the most direct route to Jerusalem, and it happens to be a village of Samaritans. We are not given the reason these folks would not accommodate them. The impression one gets is something like this. “If you just want to sleep here, we don’t want you!” (51-53). James and John (sons of thunder) are indignant, but Jesus rebuked them, and they go to another village.

On the journey, a reiteration of the cost of discipleship occurs (57-62). These few verses are a colossal exclamation point! Three others approach Jesus, saying they will follow him, but each with another priority. The lesson here is simple. Becoming a follower of Jesus means he becomes your priority. It is not that these other issues are to be overlooked, that is clear from other passages (I Timothy 5:8), including the teaching of Jesus, but they are always secondary priorities.

Conclusion and Implementation

This is a long chapter with multiple lessons, applications, and impetus for obedient Christ-followers to ask, “Lord, what action would you have me take to make course corrections in my thinking and daily life? The reader, whether for personal devotions or studying to teach a Sunday School class or small group, would do well to read the passage several times, reread this brief commentary, and, while doing so, have the pen in hand to write an action plan. Then have a season of prayer seeking the strengthening of the Holy Spirit to implement and, or that listeners would, the plan.

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