From gangster movies to slick television commercials, doing things the “easy way” or the “hard way” doesn’t seem like much of a choice. But as Jesus shows us in Luke 9, sometimes the hard way is the right way, the best way, even the only way to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
From the peak of beholding Jesus’ glory on the mountain, the disciples quickly descended into the valley of pride and self-focus. As sadly happens in the Christian life, plateaus of intimacy with God are often followed by plunges into recurring sin. Thankfully, Jesus is the Lord of both the peaks and the valleys. By descending into the grave and rising again, He is able to lift to the Father all who look to Him for grace.
When you take the cover off a floodlight, its glory is fully seen. Its brilliance was always there; it was merely veiled for a time. Jesus’ glory was veiled by His incarnation, but for one brief moment it was revealed to His closest disciples. After announcing His path to suffering and death, they needed to know that He remained the glorious Son of God. We face many challenges in the Christian life as well, but a glimpse of Jesus’ glory from the Scriptures provides everything we need to follow Him in confidence and hope.
We all face turning points in life. Major decisions, relocations, trials, and even cultural moments can change our lives forever. In chapter 9, we reach a major turning point in the Gospel of Luke: Peter’s confession of Christ, followed by Christ’s confession of the cross, followed by our call to confess Him before the world. The cross is the great turning point of history, and it must be the turning point of our lives if we are to know the grace of the Savior and follow Him fearlessly.
We tend to think that only the very young and some very old need to be fed by someone else. While that may be true physically, it is not true spiritually. Through His miraculous feeding of the five thousand, Jesus demonstrated that He is the True Bread who came down from heaven, without whom we can have neither eternal life nor effective ministry. Jesus feeds us Himself, through His Word, so that we might live and help others find their life in Him.
In Luke 9, Jesus initiated a burst of evangelistic witness that spread throughout northern Israel. The proclamation of Jesus, along with accompanying miracles, was so widespread that even King Herod took notice. Though the prevalence of miracles has changed since the foundational apostolic era, every believer in Jesus Christ is part of the same unstoppable movement to make our risen Savior known in word and deed.
Hard circumstances never seem like a blessing at first, but they can prove to be so when they lead us to the Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of Luke 8, two very different people come to Jesus in desperation and experience deliverance by His grace. Both were helpless but received mercy through faith in the One who would suffer on the cross so His people might be saved, proving that desperation is always good when it draws us to Jesus.
Jesus was barely out of the boat on foreign soil when He was confronted by a man possessed by a legion of violent, powerful, and merciless demons. The first thing the demons did was surrender, so great is the Son of the Most High God. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has liberated us from the forces of hell so that we might become ambassadors of heaven.
You don’t work as a fisherman your entire life without encountering a few storms, including some very bad ones. But when Jesus instantly calmed a storm that the disciples were sure was going to kill them, they began to realize they were in the presence of no ordinary teacher, or even prophet. They were in the presence of the One who is Lord of All and in whom alone we may rest secure through the unrest He endured for us on the cross.
Most of what we hear every day is shallow, temporary, or unedifying. It affects us either negatively or not at all, and is quickly forgotten. But God’s word takes root in our souls and produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who are trained by it. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus challenges us to be not just hearers of the word, but doers, as we follow the One who perfectly obeyed in our place.