Luke 9:2 he sent them to preach the kingdom of God
The apostles had been Christ's daily companions. Yet ironically, their spiritual development was still in its infancy. Therefore, Jesus sends them out to preach the kingdom and heal the sick. Up to this point, they had been witnesses of his grace and power but had not had to do much on their own. What a challenge to preach the new gospel and heal the sick without any previous personal experience! What a challenge to travel without purse or scrip, requiring them to place their faith in God and his most hospitable children! Yet, like missionaries that start "green" and finish with the seasoned grace of spiritual maturity, so the apostles would grow more in the Savior's absence than in his presence. They would have to exercise faith, cast out devils, preach in their own words, and heal the sick. Their missions, in fact, may have been more for their benefit than for those they taught.
Luke 9:13 he said unto them, Give ye them to eat
"In addition to showing his miraculous power over the elements, Jesus also demonstrated an important gospel principle on this occasion. When he gave food to his apostles and then commanded them to give it to others, he was teaching the order of priesthood government. (See Matt. 14:19.) The Lord's pattern is to call and instruct individuals to whom he gives responsibility and through whom he then works for the benefit of all. So it is with priesthood, with temple ordinances, with church administration, and with parenthood. Jesus blessed and divided the food, but perhaps the miraculous proliferation of it took place while it was in the hands of the apostles. Their distributing of the food, blessed and prepared as it was by divine power, typified their service in the church in other ways, as the Master gave into the hands of these mortals a portion of his mission and a portion of his authority, and sanctified their labors of righteousness." (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 290.)
Luke 9:14 the feeding of the five thousand
The miraculous feeding of the five thousand recalls both past and future miracles. Elijah, a widow, and her son were sustained by a barrel of meal that wasted not and a cruse of oil that did not fail (1 Kgs. 17:14-16). Israel had been saved in the wilderness by the heavenly administration of quail and manna. After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the Master explained that again Israel would be saved, this time spiritually, by the Bread of Life which was sent as manna from heaven (John 6).
But there is a great feeding yet to take place. In the Millenial day, 'They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more...For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes' (Rev. 7:17).
Bruce R. McConkie
"It should not be thought a thing unreasonable among them that the Son of God would exercise his creative power to give meat to hungering men. Indeed, their tradition was that when the Messiah came he would-as Moses had done-give them bread from heaven, provide them water to drink, feed them flesh according to their needs. Others before had fed Israel miraculously when their needs were great. Should it not happen again?" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 341.)
Luke 9:18 Whom say the people that I am?
What if Christ asked this question today, 'Whom say the people that I am?' What would be the answer? The answer might be "a prophet; but some say, a great teacher; and others say, one of the ancient philosophers." Ezra Taft Benson remarked:
"Several years ago, a number of prominent theologians were asked the question, What do you think of Jesus? Their replies startled many professed Christians. One asserted that a 'true Christian' must reject the resurrection. Another admitted that New Testament scholars were so divided on the question that one cannot say anything certain about the historical Jesus. Another scholar and teacher of Jesuit priests explained, 'It is difficult to say in our age what the divinity of Jesus can mean. We are groping now for a way to express it-we just don't know.' ("Easter 1966-A Quest for the True Jesus," Newsweek, April 11, 1966, p. 72.)
"In a public opinion poll conducted by George Gallup, Jr., seven in ten adult American respondents said they believed in the divinity of Christ. But 90 percent of these said that Jesus is divine only in the sense that He embodies the best that is in all men. (Church News, October 23, 1983.) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consents to no such ambiguity in relation to our position regarding Jesus Christ." (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 2.)
Shall we ask the question again, 'But whom say ye that I am?' 'What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?' (Matt. 22:42) Peter's answer is as needed today as it was 2000 years ago.
George Q. Morris
"It seems easy for some people to appraise Jesus Christ and put him in his place as no doubt a very great Teacher and a great Prophet, a man who lived a wonderful life. The 'wise and the prudent' have a way of doing this. I rather think the humble and the meek accept him as the Redeemer of the world. He said: 'I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' (Matt. 11:25.)
"The Lord Jesus Christ is not on trial before the world. Men should understand that. The world is on trial before the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will have to account for the attitude taken toward him and his message." (Conference Report, April 1955, Fourth Day-Morning Meeting 101.)
Luke 9:23 If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily
During his ministry (and obviously before He had to bear a physical cross), the Savior said, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me' (Luke 9:23). Familiar with images of the scourged Christ bearing the cross on which he was to be lifted for crucifixion, the injunction to "take up the cross of Christ" has suggested the need to withstand the burdens and persecutions we are called to bear as Christians. This is the correct interpretation when we take up His cross. As Jacob taught, we are to 'view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world' (Jacob 1:8, italics added).
But the scripture in question is not talking about taking up the cross of Christ but that every individual is to take up his own individual cross. Joseph Smith explained what this means, 'And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments' (JST-Matt 16:24). It is in this context in which the phrase is used here. As Alma counseled Corianton, 'go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things' (Alma 39:9). Therefore, in order for us to be true disciples of Christ, we must first take up our own crosses and deny ourselves of all ungodliness. Then we will be worthy to take up His cross without hypocrisy and without guile (see Matt 10:38). Elder Maxwell noted: "What are we to deny ourselves? 'It is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.' (3 Nephi 12:30.) 'These things' in this utterance of Jesus included a recitation of the sensual or selfish. Without such denial, we carry too much baggage. Alas, being overloaded, we then shed not the baggage, but the cross!" (Meek and Lowly [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 95.)
"Taking up our cross is thus not something which takes place in a single instance, nor is it necessarily one great and final test of our discipleship. We do not work out our salvation in a day or an instant, and we generally do not pass the tests of mortality through one episode of courage or one occasion of exceptional bravery. Salvation is a process. Discipleship is a process. And taking up our cross is something we do regularly and consistently. Luke therefore records Jesus' words as follows: 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me' (Luke 9:23; emphasis added). And so it is that 'a true believer is one who signs up for life.'
"'The bumper-sticker sentiment, Try Jesus, is a mentality foreign to real discipleship-faith is not an experiment but a lifelong commitment. It means taking up the cross daily, giving all for Christ each day with no reservations, no uncertainty, no hesitation. It means nothing is knowingly held back, nothing purposely shielded from His lordship, nothing stubbornly kept from His control. It calls for a painful severing of the tie with the world, a sealing of the escape hatches, a ridding oneself of any kind of security to fall back on in case of failure. A genuine believer knows he is going ahead with Christ until death.'"(Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 41.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"It takes faith to enter life's fray every day. In the constant war of the individual spirit against the flesh, it is so easy to settle for a losing accommodation with the flesh. We don't pay enough attention to Jesus' commandment about denying ourselves and taking up the cross daily (see Luke 9:23). Taking up the cross daily is an affirmation of the meaning of life, even if we log only a few miles a day in the journey of discipleship. Each increment not only moves us along but also, what is very important, maintains the desired direction. The lack of daily affirmation, on the other hand, such as through service, prayer, and forgiveness, can be a perilous pause. Resuming the journey after any pause is not automatic. Every delay risks the difficulty of resumption." (Lord, Increase Our Faith [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 104.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The Church would grow much faster now, numerically and spiritually, if it were not for the wickedness of the world (see 1 Ne. 14:12). It would also grow much faster if you and I were better by taking up the Christian cross daily (see Luke 9:23). Part of taking up the cross is denying ourselves the lusts and appetites of the flesh. 'For it is better,' the resurrected Jesus said, 'that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross' (3 Ne. 12:30).
"Thus, the daily taking up of the cross means daily denying ourselves the appetites of the flesh." ("Overcome ... Even As I Also Overcame," Ensign, May 1987, 71)
Luke 9:24 whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it
"Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in." (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Touchstone, 1996), p. 191.)
"President Gordon B. Hinckley during an address at Brigham Young University in 1977 amplified this principle when he said: 'It seems to me that He is saying to each of us that unless we lose ourselves in the service of others, our lives are largely lived to no real purpose. . . . He who lives only unto himself withers and dies, while he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity.'
"It was President David O. McKay who said in the October 1963 general conference: 'Man's greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others.'
"Of the Savior's service, and His example to us, President Spencer W. Kimball said: 'Never did the Savior give in expectation. I know of no case in His life in which there was an exchange. He was always the giver, seldom the recipient. Never did He give shoes, hose, or a vehicle; never did He give perfume, a shirt, or a fur wrap. His gifts were of such a nature that the recipient could hardly exchange or return the value. His gifts were rare ones: eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the downtrodden, freedom to the oppressed, light in the darkness, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing. His friends gave Him shelter, food, and love. He gave them of Himself, His love, His service, His life. The wise men brought Him gold and frankincense. He gave them and all their fellow mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life. We should strive to give as He gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift.' (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 246-47.)
"There is no greater feeling than that which comes to us when we give of ourselves to help others. If this year's special day of service is to bear the fruit of the future that it should we must continually give the 'holy gift' of ourselves. In so doing we will develop the Christ-like qualities that will ultimately enable us to live in His very presence, forever." (LDS Church News, 1997, 08/09/97)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"The Master taught: 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.' (Luke 9:24.)
"This remarkable and miraculous process occurs in our own lives as we reach out with love to serve others. Each of us can, with effort, successfully root the principle of love deep in our being so that we may be nourished by its great power all of our lives. For as we tap into the power of love, we will come to understand the great truth written by John: 'God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God.' (1 John 4:16.)" (Faith: The Essence of True Religion [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 49.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Many of us are kept from eventual consecration because we mistakenly think that, somehow, by letting our will be swallowed up in the will of God we lose our individuality (see Mosiah 15:7). What we are really worried about, of course, is giving up not self but selfish things-like our roles, our time, our preeminence, and our possessions. No wonder we are instructed by the Savior to lose ourselves (see Luke 9:24). He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is a question not of one's losing identity but of finding one's true identity." (If Thou Endure It Well [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 51.)
Luke 9:26 whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed
Stephen L. Richards
"Why should men be ashamed of the gospel of Christ? It is conceivable that many may not be converted and have faith sufficient to accept the divinity of the Lord Jesus and the efficacy of his gospel, but having once had assurance of his reality and the blessings which flow therefrom, why are they so hesitant in the acknowledgment of his goodness and merciful consideration for them? ...
"Undoubtedly one of the factors is pride...There are some who may regard the acknowledgment of spiritual power as a stigma of weakness, that the humility which is essential to the acceptance of divine a power is incompatible with strength of manhood and self-determination...There are some who seem to feel that their liberties are circumscribed by the acceptance and acknowledgment of spiritual forces and that they are much freer and better off to make no profession of faith whatever...Then there are those, constituting perhaps the largest portion of that group within the Church who seem ashamed of the gospel of Christ, who are just too weak to stand up under all circumstances and conditions for the right and the truth as they know it to be. Some of these are our so-called intellectuals, who persuade themselves that they suffer something of a loss of caste in the sophisticated world in which they move by plain, unequivocal acknowledgment of the Lord's supremacy and our dependence on him. How they come to persuade themselves that a lesser order of intelligence is required to comprehend and acquire the eternal and transcendently beautiful and vital truths and concepts of life, human behavior and destiny coming through revelation, than the findings of science, I do not understand. Both are important, all a part of God's wise provision for humanity. Why disparage either? ...
"Now while I may not have pointed out all of the factors and circumstances which give rise to this state of being ashamed of the gospel, I should like to pass to the more important and positive aspects of my theme by asking the comprehensive question, 'What is there about the gospel of Christ to be ashamed of?'
"The gospel of Christ is revelation...Why be ashamed of it? ... Why should any Christian wish to do that? ... if he is a Christian, how can he be ashamed of revelation?
"Priesthood is an essential component of the gospel plan. Why should men be ashamed of the priesthood? In granting the priesthood to man, the Lord has dignified and honored him as perhaps he could have done in no other way...my brethren and sisters in the Church and kingdom of our Lord, I make this solemn declaration: If you are never ashamed of the gospel of Christ, if you will always pray to him and never defame his sacred name, if you will never make light of the Holy Priesthood and the ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel, a spirit of rebellion will never come into your hearts.
"Your confidence in the leadership of the Church will grow and increase. Your relationships with your brethren and sisters will become more tender and sweet. You will grow in faith and in good works, and when your life's mission has been completed and you go hence to your reward, the Savior will greet you, as he has promised, with those glorious words, 'I am not ashamed of you.'
"May that be our lot, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus. Amen." (Conference Report, April 1954, Morning Session 31-35.)
Hyrum M. Smith
"Why should we be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we ashamed of the Redeemer of the world, who suffered as we will never be able or expected to suffer, for the truth? Ashamed of the truth? ashamed of uprightness? ashamed of honesty? of integrity? of obedience to God and to righteous laws? ashamed of all that is good and true? Why indeed should a man be ashamed of these things? And no man with the courage of his convictions and with this knowledge in his heart will ever deny this truth to escape the persecution, the hatred, the contempt, and the revilings of the world. No; we follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd, who has declared, 'For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.' He has said further, 'Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in heaven.' Who among the Latter-day Saints, entitled to all privileges of the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ for himself, will deny Jesus Christ, and by so doing place himself in a position to be denied of the Savior before God the eternal Father? Not the young men of the Latter-day Saints, let me assure you; and let me assure the world, too, that it will not be the young men of this Church who will deny Jesus Christ, and with even greater assurance can I say that it will not be the old men. It will not be any Latter-day Saint who has the knowledge of the truth and in whose bosom burns the testimony thereof revealed from Almighty God, in spite of every effort put forth by the adversary and his emissaries to persuade or to enforce us to do so. I am proud myself to feel that I have been permitted to be born in the light of truth, and to walk in the path marked out by Christ and well followed by the servants of God. As my brethren have said, I am only too proud to be permitted to be numbered with the Latter-day Saints." (Conference Report, April 1904, Afternoon Session 97.)
Luke 9:28-32 Moses and Elias...appeared in glory, and spake of his decease
David B. Haight
"Luke's account indicates that the three apostles did not witness the beginning of this marvelous transfiguration. They were heavy with sleep, as they would later be at Gethsemane, but they were suddenly startled into wakefulness (Luke 9:32). Then they saw and heard. In the darkness of the night they saw an intense light and the glorified form of their Lord. Beside him, in that same glory of light, were the two ancient prophets.
"Though it may be difficult for us to understand, Jesus himself must have been strengthened and sustained by Moses and Elijah in preparation for the suffering and agony ahead of him in working out the infinite and eternal atonement of all mankind. In a few days an angel from heaven would again strengthen him when he would sweat great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.
"The three chosen apostles were taught of his coming death and also his resurrection, teachings that would strengthen each of them in the eventful days ahead." (A Light unto the World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 11-12.)
Luke 9:28-36 What transpired on the Mount of Transfiguration?
"These ancient prophets appeared not only to comfort and prepare our Lord for what lay ahead, but also to join with him in conferring priesthood keys or directing powers; these keys would enable the Twelve to lead the Church of Jesus Christ after the Savior's mortal ministry was completed. Both Moses and Elijah had been translated in their own day, taken from the earth without tasting death. They came to the holy mount with physical bodies in order to confer sacred authority. Moses the Lawgiver, Moses who gathered and led ancient Israel for forty years, appeared. If we may draw upon modern revelation as a commentary upon ancient scripture, we conclude that Moses conferred upon Peter, James, and John the keys of the gathering of Israel. This is precisely what he did during that pentecostal season in Kirtland, Ohio, at the time of the dedication of the temple (D&C 110:11). Gathering consists of coming to Christ, to his gospel, to his true church, and to the congregations and gathering sites of his Saints.
"Elias appeared. As we know, the word Elias in the New Testament generally refers to the Old Testament prophet Elijah. Again, if we may lean heavily upon modern revelation, we would suppose that Elijah assisted the Savior in conferring upon Peter, James, and John the sealing powers, the right of presidency associated with binding and sealing on earth and in heaven, the very power Jesus had promised earlier and which he would soon deliver to all the Twelve (see Matthew 16:19; 18:18). The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that 'the spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers, and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God.' He taught further, 'Then what you seal on earth, by the keys of Elijah, is sealed in heaven; and this is the power of Elijah, and this is the difference between the spirit and power of Elias and Elijah; for while the spirit of Elias is a forerunner, the power of Elijah is sufficient to make our calling and election sure.'
"...Modern prophets have suggested that Peter, James, and John may have received the temple endowment on the mount. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that 'when there is no house of the Lord and the work is urgent, the Lord makes it possible that . . . the ordinances that pertain to the house of the Lord may be performed in the wilderness, on a mountain top, or in a lake or a stream of water. I am convinced in my own mind that when the Savior took the three disciples up on the mount, . . . he there gave unto them the ordinances that pertain to the house of the Lord and that they were endowed. That was the only place they could go. That place became holy and sacred for the rites of salvation which were performed on that occasion.'
"In addition, the Apostle Peter, in speaking of this supernal experience many years later, implies that the First Presidency received on the Mount of Transfiguration the more sure word of prophecy, the knowledge that they were sealed up unto eternal life (see D&C 131:5-6). 'Moreover I will endeavor,' Peter wrote, 'that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts' (2 Peter 1:15-19).
"Joseph Smith, in offering prophetic commentary upon this passage, said: 'And though they had heard an audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, yet [Peter] says we have a more sure word of prophecy. . . . Now, wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying, This is my beloved Son...' (Teachings, 298)
"...A modern revelation speaks of a vision that came to Peter, James, and John on the mount. 'He that endureth in faith and doeth my will,' the holy word attests, 'the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come'-that day we know as the Millennium, initiated by the second coming of the Son of Man in glory. 'When the earth shall be transfigured, even according to the pattern which was shown unto mine apostles upon the mount; of which account the fulness ye have not yet received' (D&C 63:20-21; emphasis added).
"And so the three chief Apostles descended the holy mount different men than when they had ascended it. They were lifted spiritually, empowered, endowed, sealed, and prepared. Theirs was a perspective of what was, a view of what was to be, and a confidence in the God of heaven that would enable them to lead the Church of Jesus Christ into a difficult and uncertain future." (Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 57-60.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The portent and implications of that regal rendezvous are stunning! Much that was of enormous significance took place then pertaining to the holding of priesthood keys, God's honoring those responsible for dispensational dominions and keys, and the manner in which God tutors and develops his serious disciples (see Teachings, p. 158). Such biblical richness, however, often goes unexplored and unattended." (But for a Small Moment [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986], 30.)
Luke 9:39 he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him
Some have tried to explain away the miracles of Jesus. The concept of evil spirits is unnatural to the natural man. Therefore, this story has been explained as an epileptic seizure not a demonic possession. Certainly, there are elements which are similar to a grand mal seizure: the uncontrolled movement, foaming at the mouth, suddenness of attacks, etc. But to the world of spiritual rationalizers, we ask, "which is easier to cast out a devil or to heal epilepsy?"
In latter-day anecdotes, the casting out of evil spirits is a relatively common occurrence. In contrast, the complete healing of an epileptic is much less frequent. So even if this were a story of epilepsy not demonic possession, it is no less miraculous. But the Savior's words indicate that it was a case of evil spirits, for he specifically, 'rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child' (v. 42).
Luke 9:45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them
It is truly remarkable how many times the Master clearly told the disciples what was going to happen to him, and still they did not understand. The gospel of Matthew alone records 6 distinct instances (either plainly or in parable) declaring he would be killed (see Matt. 12:40; 16:21; 17:12; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 21:39-42). In Luke's record, like the others, the message seems to go in one ear and out the other. Mark reports that, 'they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him' (Mark 9:32). Luke records, 'they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying' (Lu 9:45). Like so many other things, 'These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they' (Jn. 12:16).
Interesting how unreceptive we can be to concepts we don't understand or don't like! This phenomenon happens to us all the time. We read scriptural passages over and over again without comprehending the full meaning of the words. How many prophetic details regarding the end of the world and the Lord's coming will be understood only in retrospect? After certain prophesied events occur, we will reread our scriptures and ask ourselves, "why didn't I ever see that before? It's written here as plain as day!" Just as Christ's death didn't fit into the disciples' mental construct of the Messiah, there are events yet to take place which will surprise us-not because we were not told-but because we were not ready to receive them.
Luke 9:48 he that is least among you all, the same shall be great
Marlin K. Jensen
"All of us who have observed a loving Primary nursery leader ministering patiently to her flock of two-year-olds or who have felt the gentle spirit of those wonderful white-haired men and women who faithfully serve in the temples of the Lord, will understand perfectly the Savior's comment: 'For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.' (Luke 9:48.)
"When our eyes are fixed on God's glory, we feel the majesty of His creations and the grand scope of His work on this earth. We feel humble to be participants in His latter-day kingdom. If we pause and quietly reflect on our role in all of this, we will come to know that placing our egos and our vain ambitions on the sacrificial altar is one of the most important offerings we can ever make. Well might we acknowledge, as did Moses after beholding in vision God's glory: 'Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.' (Moses 1:10.)" ("An Eye Single to the Glory of God," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 28)
Luke 9:50 he that is not against us is for us
Latter-day saints sometimes forget about the love God has for all of his children. We sometimes forget that the Lord 'maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust' (Matt. 5:45). Hence some mistakenly think that the works of God can only be manifest through those who are part of the earthly kingdom. But what about all the good that is produced by those who are not members of the church? Moroni said, 'every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God' (Moroni 7:13). This doctrinal commentary relies on the great contributions of non-LDS authors such as C. S. Lewis, Edersheim, and Farrar. Their works are impressive and inspired. Hundreds of examples could be given of the other great works of non-LDS believers. What is the attitude of the Lord towards these good people? We might imagine him saying, 'he that is not against us is for us.'
"...we should respect our fellow human beings-not in spite of their beliefs, but because of them! A man or woman who carefully obeys all the laws and teachings of the Catholic or Buddhist or Shinto or Lutheran religion is obviously striving to do right. We should not condemn their beliefs, but rejoice in their righteous desires-for they will be just that much readier to have the Holy Ghost come to them to bear witness of even greater truths than they had previously known." (Gerald E. Jones, "Respect for Other People's Beliefs," Ensign, Oct. 1977, 70)
John K. Carmack
"Jesus' reaction may have surprised the Apostles, but it immediately established tolerance as a doctrine Jesus expected his disciples to adopt. Thus, we learn that Christians are to respect the actions and beliefs of those not belonging to their society. Others also perform good deeds and act out of sincere motivations. This was true in the days of the early Church and is true today." (Tolerance: Principles, Practices, Obstacles, Limits [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 7 - 8.)
Luke 9:51 he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem
James E. Talmage
"Jesus sent messengers ahead to announce His coming and to prepare for His reception. In one of the Samaritan villages He was refused entertainment and a hearing, 'because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.' Racial prejudice had superseded the obligations of hospitality. This repulse is in unfavorable contrast with the circumstances of His earlier visit among the Samaritans, when He had been received with gladness and entreated to remain, but on that occasion He was journeying not toward but farther from Jerusalem." (Jesus the Christ, 393)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Nearly three years have passed since our Lord's baptism and the commencement of his formal ministry; in another six months he will eat his last Passover with his disciples, be crucified, and received up into eternal glory with his Father. The final hours of his ministry before his final assumption into heaven are at hand... Jesus was leaving Galilee forever; his great Galilean ministry was ended. In Judea and Perea his voice would yet be heard, his mighty works seen. But the course of his life was toward the cross, and he was steadfast and immovable in his determination to follow this very course, one laid out for him by his Father. He had said of himself through the mouth of Isaiah, 'I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.' (Isa. 50:7.) Clearly, there was to be no turning back." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 439.)
Luke 9:54 James and John...said, Lord wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
From our perspective, some of the apostle's comments seem misguided. We wonder what Peter was thinking when he suggested the building of tabernacles (v. 33). We wonder why James and John made this offer to Jesus. Yet, rather than disparage the apostles, let's look at the context of their comments. James and John had just been transfigured on the Mount. They had just received important priesthood keys from Moses and Elijah. They must have thought, "now we have the same power and keys that Moses and Elijah held." They must have thought about their prophetic missions and the miracles they performed. Elijah's ministry, in particular, involved the judgment of God upon the unbelievers. The sons of Zebedee may have reflected on how he destroyed the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs. 17). They must have thought of the time when the rebellious king Azahiah rejected the counsel of Elijah and sent troops to arrest him. The officers and a hundred men were destroyed by fire (2 Kgs. 1). James and John understood that this was the power they now held. From this perspective, we can see their misguided suggestion as an offering of faith. They had the faith that they could bring fire from heaven, even as Elijah did. Unfortunately, they didn't understand that the judgments of the Old Testament time were to be replaced by the mercies of Jesus' New Testament teachings. The lesson to be learned was that the powers of God were not to be used unless directed by the Spirit, for at that time, they knew not 'what manner of spirit' they were of.
Luke 9:57-60 a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest
"Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a serious matter. Followers of the Christ, if they expect eventually to become as he is, must be willing to encounter hardship and pain and suffering, even as their Master did. There is a cost for discipleship.
"'And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest' (Luke 9:57). Truly many people so say. 'Lord, I would be with thee,' they proclaim. 'I would be a true follower.' It is as though the Redeemer asks in retort: 'Would you really? Do you know what such a life entails? Are you ready to engage the trials, the abuse, the desertion? Are you prepared to pay the price?' The account from Luke continues: 'And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head' (Luke 9:58). The call to follow is the call to face the stark realities of discipleship-the inconvenience, the impediments, the irony. The mother of James and John once approached the Savior in regard to the future status of her two sons. 'She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.' Our Lord responded soberly: 'Ye know not what ye ask.' And then he posed the query that must and should echo in the hearts and minds of all who aspire to fellowship with the Son of Man: 'Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?' (Matt. 20:20-22)." (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 85.)
"Jesus fully understood the necessity of the preaching of the gospel unto all nations, and that this could only be done by great sacrifice, as evidenced by his own statements: (quotes Luke 9:57-58).
"In other words, it would appear that Jesus wanted to make it plain to this 'certain man,' and all other men who might want to follow him in the ministry in the future (and we take it that this is the reason the statement became scripture), that he had nothing to offer them in the way of monetary consideration for following him, not even a place to lay their heads. (quotes Luke 9:59-62).
"In other words, Jesus wanted it to be understood that nothing was to stand in the way of preaching the kingdom of God, not even the care of one's dead or the saying of farewell." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, 247.)
Marion G. Romney
"Christ's invitation to become his disciple is universal. He extends it to everyone...Jesus put no money price tag on his invitation. Nephi quotes him as saying, 'Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price' (2 Ne. 26:25).
"This does not mean, however, that because he put no money price on it that there is no cost involved. There is a cost to be paid in becoming a disciple of Christ, a very real cost. But the cost is a performance cost, not a money price....Jesus was not looking for, or calling, men to do lip service only. He a wanted them to realize that following him meant effort and sacrifice." ("A Disciple of Christ," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 38)
Luke 9:62 No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God
"My husband and I recently returned from the California San Jose Mission. It was with some anxiety and concern that we accepted the call, as we were both nearing our 70s and had some health problems. I also had other considerations, such as leaving my 93-year-old father, our printing business and our home. I was rather discouraged and was 'dragging my heels.' One night, unable to sleep, I was contemplating and was overcome with anxiety at the prospect of going on a mission. After praying and struggling with such negative feelings, a scripture came to mind, something about a man putting his hand to the plow.
"After looking up the scripture (Luke 9:62) and committing the last part to memory, it became my guide and my goal throughout our mission. Having grown up on a ranch, and since gardening is my favorite hobby, the metaphor of the plow used by the Savior appealed to me.
"Our mission proved to be a wonderfully rewarding experience, and I found that I was able to put concerns at home behind me. I didn't even get homesick, though naturally I missed loved ones. Things at home went very well in our absence; even my gardens thrived. Our families benefited from opportunities to help 'Grandma and Grandpa' serve their mission. My special scripture, and others, have sustained me in the occasionally difficult times, and I know that the Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him when they have put their hand to the plow." (Mildred Mansfield, LDS Church News, 1988, 06/25/88)
"[In the classic case of Lot's wife] her feet were traveling the path away from Sodom and Gomorrah, [but] her heart must have remained attached to the images she left there. By looking back, she lost everything. (See Gen. 19:1-26.) On one occasion Jesus said to a disciple: 'No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.' (Luke 9:62; emphasis added.) We cannot serve God and graven images at the same time. James described the results of trying: 'A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.' (James 1:8.) Embracing the gospel requires singleness of purpose. It means that we reach for the fruit of the tree of life without making secret reservations in the great and spacious building across the way. (See 1 Ne. 8, 11.)" (Dennis Largey, "Refusing to Worship Today's Graven Images," Ensign, Feb. 1994, 12)
Howard W. Hunter
"The Master made it clear that the work of the kingdom was to take precedence over all other things...the third man stepped forward and said: 'Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.' (Ibid., 9:61.)
"Not one of the three was willing to follow him without first returning to their worldly affairs. The answer of Jesus is one of the great aphorisms of biblical literature. 'No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.' (Ibid., 9:62.)
"In his teachings the Master used homely figures of speech, those having familiar, everyday character. The words 'his hand to the plough,' unfolds a picture before us with which we are all familiar-a strong man with sinewy arms and a firm step, guiding the blade straight and true, his eyes intent upon the plough, looking ahead to the furrow to be cut. Hour after hour he toils, never looking backward except to see that the furrow is straight.
"...Of all the work of the field, plow-work is the heaviest labor. It is primary and fundamental-it is pioneer toil. A seed may be dropped anywhere, and there is no resistance, but put the blade of the plow into the ground and a thousand forces join to oppose the change. To disturb the conventional to overturn the traditional, or to attempt to make changes in the deep-rooted way of doing things in the lives of individuals, requires toil and sweat. The heaviest work in the kingdom of God is to turn the hard surface of the earth which has been baked in the sun or covered by the growth of nature. What a great change comes over land which has been cleared and plowed,-row after row of evenly spaced furrows, the subsurface loosened and exposed to the sun and air and the rains from heaven, ready to be broken up and planted to seed. The wilderness is conquered and subdued.
"Those who become disciples of the Master and put their hands to the plow without turning back prove themselves to be worthy plowmen. By turning over the old surfaces of tradition, they prepared the fields for the introduction and the spread of Christianity into the world.
"We do not need to go back to the time of Christ, however, to find fields to plow. Fields exist today all over the world, and missionaries have been called and have put their hands to the plow. Nearly 15,000 stake and full-time missionaries are now in the fields. Furrows are being cut and seeds planted and every day we see the results of the harvest." (Conference Report, April 1961, First Day-Morning Meeting 16-17.)
Howard W. Hunter
"There is danger in looking backward. One must keep his eyes ahead in order to cut a straight furrow. When the plowman commences to look backward, he cuts a crooked furrow, and his work is spoiled. We cannot continue to walk forward when at the same time we are looking backward. It makes no difference what object or occasion causes us to look backward, the backward glance commences the backward turning, and may be the beginning of our disendowment in the kingdom of God.
"As plowing requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made and is marred when one looks backward, so will they come short of exaltation who prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention or a divided heart. We may not see clearly the end of the furrow, but we dare not look back. Eternity stretches on ahead, challenging us to be faithful." (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 49.)