Luke 9:1-9 Perplexed by Jesus

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.[a] 4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. 9 Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

Perplexed by Jesus

Herod was perplexed by Jesus.  “Who is Jesus?” Herod asks.  He is told that this is John resurrected, but he decapitated John. It is by watching Jesus’ apostles that news filters back to Herod.  We don’t see the wind, but we see its effects on the trees and flowers.  So Jesus is seen through the actions of those he sends into the world.  These disciples acted on Jesus’ authority.  They were bold in their speech as they preached the good news.  Christians today often equate the gospel with getting souls saved.  The good news includes that, but it is so much more.  The good news releases captives, heals the land, helps the poor, and raises the dead.  The disciples became apostles when they dynamically lived out the faith they had received.  This is before the Holy Spirit had descended on them with power, yet still they make their mark on the local countryside.

We Christians today have become split into those who preach a social gospel and those who preach a gospel of grace through faith.  Jesus doesn’t send his disciples with any such split.  They are the salt of the earth, we should be the same.  They were light and we should also shine.  They were called by Jesus so that they would make a difference.  We have been called in the same way.  I believe that I am called to education and I am living that out in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.  I am a voice at my church advocating for the education of Christian children in such a way that will counter the trends in our society.  I teach at Moody and train teachers to teach differently because I am sent to Moody by Jesus.  If I am in any way effective it is because people see through my actions and see Jesus.  Then, like Herod, maybe more people will question who is this Jesus and they will seek him.

Some of us are perplexed by Jesus even though we are his own.  I have shared my perplexity as to whether Jesus wants us to move house or not.  I am also perplexed by the miracles Jesus commissions.  I am grateful for the mighty work Jesus has done in moving us into adoption and redeeming Daryl and Amelia, our children.  I am thankful that there I times that I teach and Jesus seems to work in the lives of my students.  However, I have not cast out any demons or healed someone who is visibly disfigured or lame.  I never felt led to pray for the healing of my mother and father in law.  Did they die crippled by Cerebral Palsy when I could have been the conduit of God’s grace in healing them?  I come from a tradition (and Moody affirms this) that says healings and miraculous gifts are not normative.  In stating this am I just stating my lack of faith, or did Jesus especially equip his apostles as a sign of his authority when he was physically present in Israel?  I am perplexed by Jesus.  What would he have me do?  As I look into his face, I still ask with wonder, “Who are you?”

Prayer

I am thankful that you have sent me and that I have a mission to perform for your glory.  You give my life meaning and purpose.  May people see my heart as I align it with you and may I not fear people as much as I do.  However, you perplex me with your majesty, sovereignty and holiness.  I don’t know what kind of power is available to work through me, but I pray I would have both the faith and the wisdom to find out.

Questions

  1. What does Jesus give to his disciples so they can complete their task?
  2. How are his disciples faithful to their calling?
  3. Why does Luke tell us about Herod’s perplexed response?
  4. How are you to be faithful in changing the world around you?  What is your mission?
  5. How are people both positively and negatively perplexed these days by the actions of Christians?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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