What does Luke chapter 9 mean?Luke 9 completes one major section of the Gospel and begins another. Luke 1:1—4:13 records Jesus' pre-public life. Luke 4:14—9:50 covers Jesus' Galilean ministry. In verse 51, Jesus "[sets] his face to go to Jerusalem," beginning what can be described as "Jesus' travelogue (Luke 9:51—19:27)." The first group of stories continues chapter 8's accounts about different reactions of those presented with the authority and power of Jesus. Those provide real-world examples of the soils from the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4–15).
First, Jesus empowers the Twelve with authority to heal, expel demons, and preach the coming of the kingdom of God. Like the fertile soil (Luke 8:8, 15), the disciples' work produces great fruit (Luke 9:1–6). Matthew and Mark also record this story (Matthew 10:1–42; Mark 6:7–13).
Herod Antipas, the tetrarch, has a different reaction. He represents the hard path which rejected the seed (Luke 8:5, 12). He hears of all Jesus is doing and the speculation that He is a resurrected John the Baptist or an appearing of Elijah or some other prophet raised from the dead. Herod decides he must meet Jesus (Luke 9:7–9); he will only do so during the string of trials Jesus faces before His crucifixion (Luke 23:8–12).
In the feeding of the thousands, Luke doesn't focus on Jesus' teachings or healing miracles. He emphasizes that even though the disciples have seen and personally used Jesus' power (Luke 8:22–56; 9:1–6), they are overwhelmed at the thought of feeding a crowd of people. The roots of their faith are still shallow (Luke 8:6, 13). Jesus steps in, feeding the people and providing enough leftovers that each disciple could have their own basket full of food (Luke 9:10–17). This is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13–21; Mark 6:31–44; John 6:1–13).
When Jesus asks whom the disciples think He is, Peter says, "The Christ of God" (Luke 9:18–20). Peter's confession is also in Matthew 16:13–16 and Mark 8:27–29. Jesus then tells them He will die and rise again (Luke 9:21–22) and challenges them to be willing to follow His example (Luke 9:23–27). Jesus' warnings are also in Matthew 16:21–28 and Mark 8:31—9:1.
In the transfiguration, Peter, James, and John get a glimpse of Jesus' real glory (Luke 9:28–36). Meanwhile, the other nine disciples struggle to free a boy from a powerful demon. Jesus, again, takes care of what the disciples should have had faith to accomplish (Luke 9:37–42). The transfiguration and the rescue of the boy are also in Matthew 17:1–20 and Mark 9:2–29.
In the final three stories of Jesus' Galilean ministry, the disciples prove they still don't know why Jesus came. When Jesus again predicts He will be crucified, the disciples are confused. Perhaps because of their unwillingness to listen, the truth is now withheld from them (Luke 9:35, 43–45). They follow this with an argument about who is greatest: valuing a title more than commitment (Luke 9:46–48). Finally, the Twelve reject a stranger who casts out demons in Jesus' name. Again, they place more importance on position in the inner circle than submission to Jesus' authority (Luke 9:49–50). These accounts are also in Matthew 17:22–23 and 18:1–5 and Mark 9:30–41.
Luke 9:51 is the transition point from Jesus' Galilean ministry to His path towards Jerusalem. In His Galilean ministry, He taught and healed crowds to announce the coming of the kingdom of God. The "travelogue" is a collection of more private teachings and events Jesus uses to prepare the disciples for His death and resurrection and the establishment of the church.
Continuing the theme of the disciples' misunderstanding, a village in Samaria refuses to show hospitality. John and James offer to call down fire from above and burn it down. They still see miraculous gifts as tools to accumulate power and authority, not bless people. Jesus rebukes them and they travel on (Luke 9:52–56).
Finally, Luke uses two flashbacks and one original story to reveal the requirements Jesus' disciples need to fulfill. They can't be distracted by comfort, worldly responsibilities, or even family. Disciples must be willing to sacrifice their earthly lives to gain eternal life (Luke 9:57–62). Matthew 8:19–22 also records Jesus' first two interactions.
Luke 10:1—11:13 continues Jesus' lessons about priorities in discipleship. He empowers seventy-two disciples to perform miracles, teaches about the Good Samaritan, praises Mary of Bethany, and presents the Lord's Prayer. Then a section on the rejection by the Pharisees (Luke 11:14–54) introduces the rest of the travelogue's emphasis on the kingdom of God (Luke 12:1—19:27). Luke 19:28—21:38 is the presentation of the Christ, and Luke 22:1—24:53 is the passion and resurrection. With these stories in this order, Luke strives to build up Theophilus's faith in the truth about Jesus' life (Luke 1:1–4).