THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE
Lesson 7: Chapters 8:1-9:50
The Conclusion of Jesus' Ministry in the Galilee
Your son called all humanity to follow Him "men and women, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles. What a rich tapestry of humanity Your Son prepared to be the first missionaries of His Church. We are the inheritors of their mission to spread the Gospel of salvation. Help us to follow faithfully and heroically in their footsteps without faltering and with the determination to remain faithful to the end. Give us the faith of the woman who knew she could be healed if only she could touch Jesus' cloak and the courage of Jesus' Apostles who submitted themselves to become His vessels of healing and compassion. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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It was not granted
to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but rather to us, who
are more ready to embrace the faith. He has given us, since he is perfect
wisdom, the ability to understand parables and the dark saying, the words of
the wise and their riddles. Parables, we may say, are the images not of
visible objects but rather spiritual and understandable by the intellect.
Cyril of Alexandria, Luke, Homily 41
St. John tells us that Jesus moved back and forth between the Galilee and Judea during His three years of ministry, sometimes passing through Samaria (Jn 4). In fulfillment of the Law, He attended all the holy days of obligation called the "pilgrim feasts" (Jn 2:13; 6:4; 7:2; 12:1). He probably attended many of the annual holy feasts, and even the national feasts like Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication (Jn 10:22). Luke's focus is on Jesus' ministry in the Galilee until Jesus makes His final journey to Jerusalem at the end of chapter 9.
Luke 8:1-3 ~ Some of the women disciples
1 Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve 2 and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.
In Jesus' time a woman's rights were very limited religiously and civilly. A woman could not go further into the Temple than into the Court of the Gentile and the Court of the Women (Antiquities of the Jews, 15.418 f; Wars of the Jews 5.199); they could only enter the Court of the Priests to offer a sacrifice (Tosephta Arakhin , II,1m 544).(1) Where Jewish families strictly observed the Law, the women of their households took no part in public life. When it was necessary for a woman to go out in public, her hair and face was covered by a veil during the era of Roman occupation. Only in her wedding procession was a woman to be seen with an uncovered head and then only if she were a virgin (Mishnah: Ketuim, 2.1). It was forbidden for a man to speak to a woman in public who was not of his family (Mishnah: Kiddushin, 70a-b; Jn 4:27); it was also forbidden to be alone with a woman who was not his wife or daughter (Mishnah: Kiddushim, 4.12, 81a (Babylonian Talmud), or to even look at a married woman or even give her a greeting (Mishnah: Kiddushim, 70a-b.) A woman had no private wealth; her material wealth was in the possession of her husband (Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, page 360). It was therefore unprecedented according to the customs of the times that Jesus allowed the women disciples to accompany Him. St. John the Baptist was already breaking with convention by baptizing women (Mt 21:32).
Question: What conditions did Jesus place on the men
disciples that made it possible for women to safely travel with them? See Mt 5:28; 21:31-32 and Lk 7:36-37, 50.
Answer: He demanded from His disciples an attitude of complete chastity: But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mt 5:28). This high degree of righteous behavior in the company of women included respect for a woman even in a man's internal thoughts.
He also placed women on an equal plane with men before God since He proclaimed Himself the Savior of all (Gal 3:28). Because of this tradition set by Jesus, the Apostles allowed wives to accompany them (1 Cor 9:5), and women disciples were allowed to carry out important missions, as in the case of Phoebe who carried St. Paul's Letter to the Romans to its destination (Rom 16:1). Many of the woman disciples who funded Jesus ministry (Lk 8:3) must have been widows who controlled their own wealth, but at least two of the women disciples were married "Joanna the wife of Herod Antipas' steward and Salome Zebedee, the mother of James and John. They could only have supported Jesus' ministry financially with the approval of their husbands.
Question: Scripture never identifies Mary Magdalene
as a prostitute. What was her affliction?
Answer: She had been possessed by seven demons.
Question: How many of the women disciples can you
name from Scripture and what do you know about them?
|Mary Magdalene||A woman from the town of Magdala in the Galilee. Jesus cured her by casting out 7 demons. She was present at Jesus crucifixion and burial. She watched over His tomb and in the morning brought spices. She was the first disciple to witness the Resurrected Christ.||
Mt 27:56, 61; 28:1
Mk 15:40, 47; 16:9
Lk 8:2; 24:10
Jn 19:25; 20:1, 11, 16, 18
|Joanna||Wife of Cuza the chief steward of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of the Galilee and Perea. She went to the tomb with the other women and received the news of Jesus' Resurrection from the angel. She went with the other women to tell the Apostles.||Lk 8:3; 24:10|
|Susanna||A woman of the Galilee.||Luke 8:3|
|Salome||Wife of Zebedee and mother of the Apostles James and John. She was present at Jesus' crucifixion, His burial, and at His tomb the next morning when she heard the announcement of His Resurrection.||
Mt 20:20; 27:56
Mk 15:40; 16:1
|Mary (wife or daughter?) of Cleophas/Cleopas/Clopas*||Mother of James the younger and Jose (Joseph). She was present at Jesus' crucifixion and burial; with Mary Magdalene she kept watch over His tomb. She went to the tomb the morning of the Resurrection.||
Mt 27:56, 61; 28:1
Mk 15:40, 47; 16:1
|The Virgin Mary's* kinswoman/sister||She was probably a sister-in-law from Joseph's family.||Jn 19:25|
|Mary of Bethany||Sister of Martha and Lazarus from the village of Bethany. She witnessed her brother's resurrection from death and anointed Jesus the last week of His life.||
Lk 10:39, 42
Jn 11:1, 2, 19, 20, 28, 31, 32, 45; 12:3
|Martha of Bethany||Sister of Mary and Lazarus from the village of Bethany. She witnessed her brother's resurrection from death. Jesus was guest in her home on at least two occasions.||
Lk 10:38, 40, 41
Jn 11:1, 5, 19, 20, 21, 24, 30, 39; 12:2
|Mary of Jerusalem||The mother of John-Mark, writer of the Gospel of Mark. Her home was the regular meeting place for the Apostles in Jerusalem.||Acts 12:12|
|Mary of Nazareth||Jesus' mother was His first disciple. She was part of His mission from His conception to His Ascension, to the birth of the New Covenant Church at Pentecost.||
Mt 1:16, 18, 20, 2:11; 13:55
Mk 3:31; 6:3
Lk 1:27, 30, 34, 38, 39, 41, 43, 46, 56; 2:5, 16, 19, 34; 2:16, 19, 34, 48, 51; 8:19
Jn 2:1, 3, 4, 5, 12; 6:42; 19:25-26 (twice)
In the next three teachings (Lk 8:4-21), Jesus' focus is on how one responds to the word of God.
Luke 8:4-10 ~ The parable of the seed and the sower
4 When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to him, he spoke in a parable. 5 "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. 6 Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. 7 Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold." After saying this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." 9 Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. 10 He answered, "Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand' (underlining added).
The Greek word parabol is used in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament to translate the Hebrew word mashal, a word that designates a variety of literary forms including axioms, proverbs, similitudes and allegories. Jesus will use all of these literary forms in His teaching. The focus of this parable, the next parable (verses16-18) and the incident and saying that follows (verses 4-21) is how one "hears" the word of God and acts on it. The word "hear/heard" is repeated 7 times in this parable and its interpretation (verses 8 twice, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15).
The disciples, failing to grasp the full meaning of the parable of the sower, ask the Master to explain: Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, "Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand' (Lk 8:9-10). In His answer to the disciples, Jesus gives the reason He teaches in parables by referring to Isaiah 6:9: they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.'
Question: What does this quote from God's message to
the prophet Isaiah at the beginning of his mission have to do with Jesus'
mission and His teaching in parables? See Is 6:8-10; Ps 78:2 LXX: I will
speak to you in parables, unfold what has been hidden since the foundation of
the world (quoted by Jesus in Mt 13:35).
Answer: God warned Isaiah that his message of repentance would not be received by most of the people. Jesus is teaching in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets who taught in parables when the people and the religious and civil authorities rejected God's messenger and their hard and unresponsive hearts kept them from receiving an understanding of the prophet's message. As in the times of God's prophets like Isaiah, only those of open hearts who see with faith and hear with humility will grasp Jesus' message.
In the Exodus liberation God "hardened the heart" of an already hard-hearted Pharaoh (Ex 7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 34-35, 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:8; Dt 2:30) and in the mission of the prophet Isaiah, God blind the eyes and closed the ears of an already obstinate people (Is 6:9-10), turning their rejected blessing into a judgment. As in the time of the Old Testament prophets, so will it be for Jesus: the hard-hearted people who neglect to show their love for God by humility and repentance are destined to become even more hard-hearted and unresponsive to Jesus' message, as in the response of the scribes and Pharisees. Only those who are opened to the will of God for their lives will "look" and "see" Jesus' power and authority through His miracles and "hear" and "understand" His Gospel message of eternal salvation.
In the time of the mission of the prophet Isaiah, the people were obstinate and impenitent and they continued the more so in the rejection of Isaiah's message that called the people to repentance.
Question: How is Jesus comparing the people of His
generation to the people of Isaiah's generation?
Answer: Jesus is comparing the rejection of some people to His mission to the mission of Isaiah. Like Isaiah's mission, many of the people of His generation will hear His parable teachings but will not respond in faith and try to understand, therefore missing out on knowledge of the "mysteries of the Kingdom" and the promise of eternal salvation.
The use of the phrase the mysteries of the kingdom in verse 10 is a term Jesus uses for the Gospel message of salvation and prepares us for subsequent references to "the word" in verses 11-15.
Luke 8:11-15 ~ The parable of the seed and the sower
11 "This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. 12 Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. 14 As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. 15 But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance (underlining added).
In St. Matthew's Gospel this is one of the "kingdom" parables found in chapter 13. The parable is about sowing seeds in different kinds of soil. Every element in the parable is symbolic.
Question: Who is the sower of the seed in the parable?
Answer: Jesus is the sower.
Question: What does the seed represent? See Lk 8:11.
Answer: The seed is the "word of God," the Gospel message of salvation made present in the coming of God's Kingdom. Jesus' "word" plants seeds of faith. It is the same message broadcast to every person within the scope of Jesus' teaching like the seed that is generously scattered across a field.
Question: What does the "field" in the parable
Answer: The field represents the world, which is the recipient of Jesus' teaching.
Question: What do the different soil conditions
Answer: The different kinds of soil represent the different kinds of human response to Jesus' message of salvation in the coming of the Kingdom.
When the sower in Jesus' parable casts his seed, he casts it in every direction into every kind of soil condition. This was a common farming technique in which most, but not all, of the seed was expected to produce healthy plants.(3) The technique used up a large amount of seed, but the generosity in broadcasting the seed assured the area was well covered and that many plants would spring up resulting in a fruitful harvest.
Question: How is this method of sowing seed similar
to Jesus' teaching?
Answer: Jesus "broadcasts" God's message of salvation in every direction "to the receptive faithful, to those wishing to be entertained by a Galilean rabbi who performs miracles, to skeptics, and to those who are hostile to His message. His focus is the harvest of souls.
The more difficult part of the parable concerns the comparison in the four different kinds of soil where the seed falls. In Scripture the number four represents the world. One of the keys to understanding the parable is that the produced fruit is far beyond a normal yield; the yield from the good soil is "a hundredfold" (verse 8).
Jesus reveals the symbolic meaning of the four different kinds of soil that receive the seed/ the word of the Gospel of salvation.
|1. Seed sown on the path||The person who fails to receive the word. He hears the word of the kingdom without making any effort to understand and embrace the truth. Since he has failed to understand, Satan is able to separate him from the truth and from his place in the Kingdom.|
|2. Seed sown on rocky ground||This person receives the word of God with joy, but he has not applied the word to his life; he has no internal stability ("roots"). In a time of hardship or persecution he abandons his faith in God.|
|3. Seed sown among the thorns||This person hears the word but does not love God above all else; the secular world with its anxieties and seductions overcomes his faith and he fails to produce mature works of faith.|
|4. Seed sown on rich soil||This person hears the word, understands it, and applies it to his "heart"/life and bears the fruit/works of faith in abundance.|
|Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.|
Question: How would you sum up what Jesus describes as those who hear the word of God but fail to fully embrace the Kingdom? To what does Jesus attribute the three reasons for their failure? List the verses.
Answer: Jesus attributes the failure of some to produce the good fruit of repentance, conversion , and righteous works to:
Luke 8:15 But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.
Those who accept the "word" are known by the "fruit" deeds/works they bear. Although some bear more than others (Mt 13:23), in each case their fruitful lives bear service to the Kingdom through faith and perseverance.
Question: How many times does Jesus use "the word" in
verses 11-15? Why? What is Jesus referring to as "the word"? See verses 11-15
and the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture."
Answer: Jesus uses the "the word" four times in this passage. In the symbolic meaning of numbers in Scripture, four is the number of the world. "The word" refers to the Gospel message of salvation to the world that will be manifested in Jesus' Kingdom.
Question: What was the "sower's" rate of success?
See Lk 8:7.
Answer: Despite the failure of 3/4ths of the "seed" to take root, the abundant "harvest" of the seed sown in "good soil" makes the "harvest" a success.
Luke 8:16-18 ~ The parable of the lamp
16 No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it one a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away."
In this parable Jesus continues with the theme of responding to the word of God (see verse 18). The parable divulges that the secrets of the Kingdom cannot remain hidden but it is the will of God that they must be revealed.
Question: What three contrasts does Jesus use?
Answer: The contrasts of light and dark, secret and public, hidden and revealed.
Question: In the parable: who is the lamp, who lights
the lamp, what is the light, and what is the lampstand?
Answer: The faithful disciple is the lamp, Jesus lights the lamp with the "word." The light is the "word" illuminated by the faith of the disciple that is evidenced by his righteous deeds that are radiated out to the world from the lampstand that is the Church.
Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God with the intention that those who receive the word and believe will be a light to the world. The lighting of the lamp describes the conduct of the Christian disciple set on fire by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not shine through a soul so his/her "light" can be hidden. By their good deeds, Jesus' disciples are to influence the world for the good like a shining lamp set in the open. However, if a disciple fails to produce good works, he is quenching the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 5:14-19) and is as ineffective as a hidden lamp that does not share its light.
Jesus gives a warning in verse 18: For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care, then, how you hear.
Jesus' teachings that may seem difficult to understand now will be revealed in the events of His crucifixion, Resurrection, and His forty days teaching the Church before His Ascension. His warning is to be careful how you "hear" and how you receive (interpret), and apply what you hear "be the 4th person in the Seed and the Sower parable who heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance (8:15).
"... To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away."
Question: What is Jesus' warning to those who "hear"
(8:18) in the context of those who "hear" in Luke 8:15? See 1 Cor 3:11-15.
Answer: To those who embrace the word with a generous heart and bear fruit consistently in the face of adversity, more graces will be given. But as for those who quench the Spirit and do not produce good works as demonstrations of faith but only labor for worldly, temporal goods, they will ultimately lose what few blessings they "seem" to have in their material possessions.
This is the final teaching in this section on "hearing" the message of the Kingdom.
Luke 8:19-21 ~ Jesus' true family
19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. 20 He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you." 21 He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."
Jesus' family came from Nazareth to see Him, but the press of the crowd prevents them from reaching Him. The other Synoptic Gospels name his "brothers" as James, Joseph/Jose, Simon and Judas/ Jude (Mt 13:55 and Mk 6:3).
Question: What two points is Jesus making in the
comparison between physical and spiritual kinship? Hint: verse 21 is not meant
to be a criticism of His physical kinship. See Lk 1:38, 46-55, Acts 1:14; 1
Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19; Jude 1. What is our "family bond" in Jesus' Kingdom?
Answer: In the coming Kingdom, spiritual family/kinship takes precedence over physical kinship/family. In the Kingdom our family bond will be through the blood of Jesus Christ. His mother and brothers who hear the word and act on it become true examples of discipleship beyond the physical family bond.
At first, unlike His mother, not all of Jesus' family members embraced His mission and because of the commotion He caused and the opposition of the religious elite they were fearful for His safety (Mk 3:20-22). But later they trusted in His message and became the 4th kind of soil: they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance (Lk 8:15), as the New Testament will record.
Jesus' mother remained a virgin all of her life (CCC 496-99, 502-07). The reference to Jesus' brothers and sisters in the New Testament refers to His kinsmen and kinswomen (CCC 500). It was the custom of the Jews and other Semites that the term "brother" or "sister" was applied not only to siblings but to other close relatives like cousins, half-brothers, step-brothers and also to countrymen, as the term is used by Jesus in the Gospels (Mt 18:15; Lk 6:42; etc.) in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Epistles (Acts 1:15; 2:29, 37; 9:17; 22:13; Rom 14:10; 16:1; etc.). While it is true that the Greek word "adelphos" literally means brother in the sense of being born from the same womb, since there is no word for cousins, half-brother, step-brother, etc. in Hebrew or Aramaic, the writers of the Old Testament Septuagint and the New Testament used the Greek word not in the sense of the Greek meaning but in the sense of Hebrew and Aramaic kinship relationships. It is the only word used for "brother/kinsman" in the New Testament.(4)
Question: What do you know about the lives of Jesus'
family "His mother and his kinsmen? What became of Jesus' kinsmen James, Simon
Answer: Jesus cannot be criticizing His mother or his kinsmen and women in 8:19-21. They are part of His true family because they heard the word and embraced it. Mary is the first Christian. She believed in and supported her son's mission from His conception to His Resurrection and Ascension and beyond, being in prayer with the new community of the Church at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Jesus' kinsmen James, Simon and Jude are also with the Church at Pentecost. James and Simon will become the first two Christian Bishops of Jerusalem. Both men will be martyred for the faith. St. James will write the New Testament Letter of St. James and his brother/kinsman (and Jesus' kinsman) St. Jude will write the Letter of St. Jude (Jude verse 1).
In this next section which continues to describe Jesus' Galilean ministry, Luke's focus is on the manifestation of Jesus' power. It begins with several miracle stories (8:22-56) and ends with Jesus sending out the Twelve Apostles to proclaim the Kingdom and to heal (9:2-6).
Luke 8:22-25 ~ Jesus calms the storm
22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, "Let us cross to the other side of the lake." So they set sail, 23 and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A squall blew over the lake, and they were taking in water and were in danger. 24 They came and woke him saying, "Master, master, we are perishing!" He awakened, rebuked the wind and the waves, and they subsided and there was a calm. 25 Then he asked them, "Where is your faith?" But they were filled with awe and amazed and said to one another, "Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?"
This private sign for the disciples is another event that points to Jesus divinity. When He calms the storm and asks His disciples "Where is your faith?" He is asking if they do not yet recognize His true identity and have faith that He is the divine Messiah. The first sign of His divinity was when Jesus forgave the sins of the paralyzed man and the Pharisees asked: "Who but God can forgive sins?" (5:21) and the same question was asked a second time by the guests at the dinner at the home of Simon the Pharisee (7:49). The answer to this rhetorical question: "Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?" is that only God can control nature! The other nature miracle will be when Jesus walks on the water and calms the storm in the Gospel of John (Jn 6:16-21).
Luke 8:26-31 ~ The healing of the Gerasene demoniac
26 Then they sailed to the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When he came ashore a man from the town who was possessed by demons met him. For a long time he had not worn clothes; he did not live in a house, but lived among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him; in a loud voice he shouted, What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!" 29 For he had ordered the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (It had taken hold of him many times, and he used to be bound with chains and shackles as a restraint, but he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into deserted places)." 30 Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "Legion," because many demons had entered him. 31 And they pleaded with him not to order them to depart into the abyss.
This episode takes place on the east side of the Sea of Galilee in the Gentile territory of the Decapolis (Mk 5:20). Jews resided in that mostly Gentile region and Jesus has come to share His message of the Kingdom with them. Jesus encounters a man possessed by demons who is living among the unclean tombs of the dead (Num 19:11, 14, 16; Ez 39:11-15). The man who is possessed by demons is probably a Gentile (Mt 15:24; Lk 8:38-39). Once again (verse 28) the demons recognize Jesus' true identity (Lk 4:34, 41). This story may also be a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 65:1-5.
Question: To ask the name of a demon in an exorcism
is the classic technique for gaining power over the demon. How does the demon
Answer: He gives his name as Legion "his name as well as his number.
Legion is the Greek translation of the Latin word legio. A Roman legion numbered 6 thousand soldiers (Fitzmtyer, page 738).
Luke 8:31 And they pleaded with him not to order them to depart into the abyss.
Question: According to Revelation 20:3, what is the
Abyss? Why do they not want to be sent there?
Answer: It is the abode/prison of Satan and his demons. If they are confined to the Abyss they are no longer free to roam the earth.
Luke 8:32-39 ~ Jesus casts the demons into the swine
32 A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them. 33 The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34 When the swine herders saw what had happened, they ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. 35 People came out to see what had happened and, when they approached Jesus, they discovered the man from whom the demons had come out sitting at his feet. He was clothed and in his right mind, and they were seized with fear. 35 Those who witnessed it told them how the possessed man had been saved. 37 The entire population of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them because they were seized with great fear. So he got into a boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had come out begged to remain with him, but he sent him away, saying, 39 "Return home and recount what God has done for you." The man went off and proclaimed throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.
The Gospel of Mark numbers the swine at 2 thousand (Mk 5:13).
Question: Why did Jesus allow the demons to take
possession of the swineherd which immediately stampeded down an embankment and
drowned in the sea? See Lev 11:7; Dt 14:8.
Answer: It is unlikely that the pigs were owned by Gentiles. Jesus would not have cared about Gentile owning pigs, but He would care if Jews were violating the Law against owning and eating pork. This is probably an object lesson in obedience to the Law in the economic hardship from the loss of the swineherd.
Notice that when the citizens of the town arrive that Jesus has clothed the man "he is clothed physically and spiritually.
Question: How did the town respond to Jesus' healing
of the man and the loss of the swineherd?
Answer: They feared Him and asked Him to leave.
Perhaps they feared Him because they considered if He chastised the Jews for breaking the Law in the loss of the swineherd, what other penalties or severe judgments might He impose on them?
Question: Why didn't Jesus allow the grateful man to
join His disciples? See Mt 15:24; Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8. What mission does
Jesus give the man instead? See Is 66:18-21.
Answer: Jesus' mission is to spiritually restore the faithful remnant of the people of Israel to become the envoys who will carry His message of salvation to the Gentile nations of the earth. His refusal to let the man join Him only makes sense if the man was a Gentile. Instead, Jesus sends the man to prepare his people for the message of the Kingdom that Jesus' Jewish Christians and the New Covenant priesthood will carry to the Gentile nations in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy.
Luke 8:40-56 ~ The healing of the bleeding woman and
40 When Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And a man named Jairus, an official of the synagogue, came forward. 41 He fell at the feet of Jesus and begged him to come to his house, 42 because he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. As he went, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and was unable to be cured by anyone, 44 came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 Jesus than asked, "Who touched me?" While all were denying it, Peter said, "Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you." 46 But Jesus said, "Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out of me." 47 When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately. 48 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace." 49 While he was still speaking, someone from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer." 50 On hearing this, Jesus answered him, "Do not be afraid; just have faith and she will be saved." 51 When he arrived at the house he allowed no one to enter with him except Peter and John and James, and the child's father and mother. 52 All were weeping and mourning for her, when he said, "Do not weep any longer, for she is not dead, but sleeping." 53 And they ridiculed him, because they knew that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and called to her, "Child, arise!" 55 Her breath returned and she immediately arose. He then directed that she should be given something to eat. 56 Her parents were astounded, and he instructed them to tell no one what had happened. [Underlining added].
After the healing on the opposite shore of the Galilee, Jesus crossed the lake and "came into his own town" (Mt 9:1), presumably to Capernaum, the headquarters of His ministry in the Galilee. In this passage we have two healing miracles told within one story. The link between the stories is significant. As you re-read the story, notice the significant repeats.
Question: What Old Testament miracles might have
encouraged Jairus to ask Jesus to raise his daughter from the dead? See 1 Kng 17:17-24 and 2 Kng 4:18-37.
Answer: The prophets Elijah and Elisha raised children from the dead.
Question: How old was Jairus' daughter?
Answer: She was 12 years old.
While Jesus was on his way to the home of Jairus, a woman with a bleeding condition touched Him in hopes of being healed.
Question: For how many years had the woman suffered
from uncontrolled bleeding?
Answer: For 12 years.
Question: The woman had a condition that may have
been caused by fibrous tumors in the uterus. How would a condition of
continuous bleeding impact her life? See Lev 15:19-30.
Answer: For 12 years she had been in a continual state of being ritually unclean. Anything on which she sat or laid became unclean and anyone who touched her or her bed or garments became unclean. Continuing in this state of ritual impurity, she could not attend her synagogue or Temple worship.
Question: When the woman reached to touch the tassel
on Jesus' cloak, what was she touching? See Num 15:38-39 and Dt 22:12.
Answer: She was touching the tassel that all righteous men of the covenant were required to wear on their outer garments.
She grasped the tzitziyot of Jesus' talit in her desperation to receive a healing. Jesus praised her faith, telling her "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace." The question might be asked, if Jesus is God, why didn't He know who touched Him? He asked the question knowing the answer in the same way God asked "Where are you?" when He confronted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:9). Jesus required a confession of the woman's action just as God had demanded to know where Adam and Eve were in their relationship with Him, inviting them to come forward and confess their sins. In this case, Jesus was asking the woman to confess her healing and her gratitude so He can grant her His peace and forgiveness. In addition, her public confession of healing will be an effective witness to others and bringing them to repentance and conversion.
Question: When someone from Jairus' house arrived to
tell him his daughter had died. What did Jesus tell him and what words are
repeated from what He told the woman?
Answer: "... just have faith and she will be saved."
Question: When Jesus arrived at Jairus' house, He
only allowed Peter, James and John Zebedee and the child's parents to come into
the child's room. Counting the child, how many people were in the room?
Answer: There were 7.
7 is one of the "prefect" numbers and in Scripture, symbolizing perfection and fulfillment, especially spiritual perfection. This is the first time Peter, James and John have been singled out in the Gospel of Luke to accompany Jesus. They will also accompany Him when He ascends the Mt. of Transfiguration (Lk 9:28) and when He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest (Mt 26:36-37).
Question: Why does Jesus insist that the child is not
dead? What will her "sleep" and her rising from the dead prefigure? See 1 Cor 15:51-56; 1 Thes 4:14-18.
Answer: His statement is a message of hope for the family. When Jesus raises the child from death to life her miracle prefigures His own Resurrection and the "sleep" of the faithful as they await the final bodily resurrection to come at the end of the age.
Luke 8:55b-56 He then directed that she should be given something to eat. 56 Her parents were astounded, and he instructed them to tell no one what had happened.
Just as Jesus had attended to the practical by clothing the demonic man, He instructs the child's parents to given her something to eat. He also tells them not to share the true nature of the miracle. He tells them this possibly because opposition to Him is continuing to grow and His mission to Israel is not yet completed; He needs more time before the climax of His mission.
The significance of the two parallel stories of the official's daughter and the bleeding woman is that both healings the woman and the girl biblical "types" of Israel.
Question: What comparisons can you make between the
two stories and the relationship between those stories and God's chosen people
|Jairus' Daughter||The Bleeding Woman||Israel|
|The official calls her his "daughter" (Mt 9:18; Mk 5:23).||Jesus calls the woman "daughter" (Mt 9:22; Mk 5:34).||Both the girl and the woman are "daughters" of Israel.|
|The official's daughter is 12 years old (Mk 5:42).||The woman bled for 12 years (Mt 9:20; Mk 5:25).||12 is the number of Israel "originally composed of 12 tribes.|
|Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mt 9:25; Mk 5:42).||Jesus healed the bleeding woman (Mt 9:22; Mk 5:34).||Jesus came to heal Israel and to raise the faithful remnant of Israel from bondage to death to new life in Christ Jesus.|
|Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.|
In Bishop Eusebius' 4th century AD Church History, he records that the woman with the uncontrolled bleeding lived in Caesarea Philippi. He wrote that she spread the Gospel message in her city, made her home a Church-home and erected two statues, one of Jesus and the second of herself reaching out to touch the fringe of His garment to commemorate the event of her healing; statues which he testifies he had seen (Church History, Book 6, chapter 18).(5)
The period of their instruction having been completed, Jesus sent the twelve Apostles on their first mission to heal and proclaim the Gospel.
Luke 9:1-6 ~ The mission of the Twelve Apostles
1 He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them. Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
Question: How has Jesus been conducting His ministry
in the Galilee?
Question: What do these "signs" of Jesus' authority
Answer: These signs demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah promised by the prophets and that He is truly "God who saves," the meaning of His name "Jesus" "Yah'shua in Hebrew (Yehoshua in the 1st century AD).
Question: What authority does Jesus give His
disciples in their first mission and how do those spiritual gifts reflect His
mission? See Lk 9:1-2 and Mt 10:5-8.
Answer: Jesus gave them the power and authority He has demonstrated in His mission:
St. Matthew records that He also gave them the power to raise the dead and cleanse the impure, but he also gave them the command to only go to the "lost sheep of Israel" and not to the Gentiles (Mt 10:5-8).
Question: What authority does He not yet give them?
When will they receive additional authority and why? See Mt 28:20; Lk 24:25-27, 36-49; Jn 14:26; 20:22-23; Acts 1:1-5; Acts 2:1-4.
Answer: They do not have the authority to command nature, to teach, and to forgive sins.
The authority to teach and to forgive sins will be given to them only after Jesus' Resurrection. At that time they will be fully instructed by Him to understand how He has fulfilled the Law and the prophets. At that time He will give the Apostles the power of the Holy Spirit to guide them and, as His ministers of the Kingdom, the power to forgive sins (Jn 20:22-23). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a power the other disciples will receive at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
The Church has received the same authority to proclaim the kingdom and to heal the sick in both body and soul. The Church believes in the life-giving presence of Christ among His faithful and that this presence is especially active through the sacraments (CCC 1509).
Question: What are Jesus' rules of conduct for the
Apostles in Luke 9:3-5?
Didache 12 placed a two or three day limit on the stay for a travelling prophet. It was the custom for Jews and Israelites returning from Gentile territory before crossing the border into the Promised Land to shake the dust of the pagan lands off their feet as symbolic of the "uncleanness" of pagans and the "purity" of the Promised Land and those in covenant with Israel's God. Jesus command suggests that the disciples are to treat covenant members who reject their message proclaiming the kingdom like heathen Gentiles. St. Luke will portray Sts. Paul and Barnabas doing this at Antioch of Pisidia in Acts 13:15
Question: Why does Jesus tell the disciples not to
accept any payment for their ministry?
Answer: One can only give and receive spiritual goods freely. To assign a material value is to appropriate those spiritual goods to one's self. And for the persons dispensing them to assign a value is to behave as though they are the owner or master of what is spiritual "no one can own what has as its source the power of God. One can only receive what is spiritual without payment.
Question: What is the definition of simony? See Mt 10:8; Acts 8:9-24 and CCC 2120.
Answer: It is the buying or selling of spiritual gifts, like the sacraments or indulgences. It is forbidden by Jesus in Matthew 10:8 and condemned by St. Peter in Acts 8:20. The Church defines simony as a sacrilege; a sacrilege is the profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions (CCC 2120). God's grace is a free gift.
Luke 9:7-9 ~ Herod Antipas' curiosity about Jesus'
7 Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, "John has been raised from the dead"; 8 others were saying, "Elijah has appeared"; still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen." 9 But Herod said, "John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see him.
Question: When did Herod kill St. John the Baptist? Will
he ever be able to see Jesus for himself? See Mt 14:1-2; Mk 6:14-16 and Lk 23:8-12.
Answer: He beheaded St. John after his step-daughter danced for him at his birthday banquet. He promised the girl up to half his kingdom. Her mother persuaded her to ask for the head of John in retaliation for John condemning her as an adulteress. Herod will get his wish to see Jesus when Pilate tries to free himself from passing judgment on Jesus by sending Him to Herod Antipas.
Josephus records that Herod imprisoned John in the Perean fortress of Macherus (Antiquities, 18.5.2/116-119). He was the ruler of both Perea and the Galilee (his palace was located near the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias). Bible scholars debate whether the party took place at the palace-fortress at Macherus or the palace in Tiberias since those in attendance were his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee (Mk 6:21); but like most rulers, Herod's entourage traveled with him. Since Herod Antipas' capital city was in the Galilee, it is not inconceivable that the majority of the officers of his court would have been Galileans like Herod Antipas' steward, Chuza, whose wife Joanna was a disciple of Jesus and supported His ministry (Lk 8:3; 24:10). It may be from Joanna and Chuza that we know the details of John's death.
Luke 9:10-17 ~ The feeding of the five thousand
10 When the Apostles returned, they explained to him what they had done. He took them and withdrew in private to a town called Bethsaida. 11 The crowds, meanwhile, learned of this and followed him. He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. 12 As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." 13 He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go to buy food for all these people." 14 Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down [cause them to recline] in groups of about fifty." 15 They did so and made them all sit down [recline]. 16 Then taking the five loaves and two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets. [..] literal translation; from the Greek verb analino/anapipto, "to fall back," or "recline"' IBGE, vol. IV, page 187). It is the same verb used to describe the position of Jesus and the Apostles at the Last Supper (IBGE, vol. IV, page 234, Luke 22:14).
This miracle feeding is recorded in all the Gospels. The Gospel of John tells us this event took place in the second year of Jesus' ministry during the spring when the pilgrims were making their way to Jerusalem for the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread (Jn 6:1-4). Bethsaida, located at the extreme northern point of the Sea of Galilee, was the hometown of the Apostle Philip (Lk 6:14) and was also the hometown of Peter and Andrew before they moved to Capernaum (Jn 1:44).
At first glance this story of the feeding miracle seems to be only concerned with Jesus' compassion and His supernatural ability to meet the needs of His people, but there is so much more to be understood concerning this event.
The miracle of feeding is not only meant to remind us of God's compassion in the Old Testament but to also to prepare us for a greater miracle that St. John's Gospel points us to in Jesus' Bread of Life Discourse. In that discourse the Jews saw Jesus feeding miracle the day before in the context of the miracle of the manna and Jesus as the new prophet Moses come to liberate His people and the new David come to reestablish the kingdom of Israel (see Jn 6:1-15; 30-31). In His discourse the next day, Jesus promises that He will one day give His Body and Blood as food and drink for the salvation of man (Jn 6:22-65). His miracle feeding and the discourse the next day foreshadows the giving of Himself in the Eucharist.
Jesus miraculously transforms five loaves of barley bread (Jn 6:9) and two fishes into enough food to feed the crowd. First He tells them to recline in groups on the grass. Then Jesus blessed the bread, broke the bread, and gave the food to His disciples to distribute to the people.
Question: How many people were fed in the feeding
Answer: We are only told that five thousand men were fed, not counting the women and children, so the number was maybe twice or three times as many.
This was a supernatural event and not, as some claim, an example of the people sharing food they already brought with them. The number 5 is the number of grace and any multiple of a number signifies abundance of the symbolic nature of the number; in this case, the number signifies the abundance of God's grace in meeting the needs of His people. The five loaves and two fishes of the meal also may have symbolic significance. Together they add up to the number 7; it is also one of the "perfect" numbers (3, 7, 10 and 12), signifying perfection, fullness and completion, especially spiritual perfection (see the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture").
Notice how carefully St. Luke and the other Synoptic Gospel writers have provided several similarities between the miracle feeding of the more than 5 thousand and the miracle feeding at the Last Supper (see Mt 14:13-21 and 26:26-30; Mk 6:30-44 and 14:22-26; Lk 9:10-17 and 22:14-20).
Question: How many similarities can you find? Note
the word "recline" is in all passages in the Greek text of the feeding of the 5
thousand and in the Last Supper in Matthew and Luke.
Answer: The Gospel writers used some of the same wording and in the same order:
|The Feeding Miracle of the 5 Thousand||The Last Supper|
|1. It was evening when the meal took place (Mt 14:15; Mk 6:35; Lk 9:12)||1. It was evening when the meal took place *|
|2. They reclined to eat (Mt 14:19; Mk 6:40; Lk 9:14-15)||2. They reclined to eat (Mt 26:20; Lk 22:14 in Greek text)|
|3. Jesus blessed the food (Mt 14:19; Mk 41; Lk 9:16)||3. Jesus blessed the food (Mt 26:26; Mk 14:22; Lk 22:19)|
|4. He broke the loaves (Mt 14:19; Mk 6:41; Lk 9:16)||4. He broke the loaves (Mt 26:26; Mk 14:22; Lk 22:19)|
|5. Jesus passed the food to the disciples (Mt 14:19; Mk 6:41; Lk 9:16)||5. Jesus passed the food to the disciples (Mt 26:26: Mk 14:22; Lk 22:19)|
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2013
This miracle feeding foreshadowed the first Eucharistic banquet at the Last Supper but it was not the same miracle:
The abundant miracle multiplication of the loaves and fishes distributed by the Apostles prefigures the feeding the Eucharist to the faithful of the world as Jesus makes the miracle present on Church altars to His ordained ministers who pass what was ordinary bread but becomes the Bread of Life to the Body of Christ "the Church throughout the world.
Question: What do the miracle feedings and the
Eucharist prefigure that will take place at the end of time? See Is 25:6;
62:8-9; 62:8-9; 65:13-14; Jer 31:12-14; Ez 44:16; Rev 19:7-9.
Answer: They prefigure the promise of the eschatological banquet of the faithful after the "final harvest" at the end of time in God's heavenly Sanctuary.
The Catechism interprets Jesus' miracle feedings of the five thousand and the four thousand: The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributed the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ (CCC 1335).
Luke 9:18-21 ~ St. Peter's profession of faith
18 Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'" Then he said to them, "but who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Messiah of God." He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
St. Matthew tells us that this event took place in the extreme northern region of the Promised Land at Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:13). In the Gospel of Matthew, Peter's declaration is more precise: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God," for which Peter receives Jesus' blessing (Mt 16:17-19) and the symbolic "keys" of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Luke 9:22-27 ~ The first prophecy of His Passion and the
condition of discipleship
22 He said, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." 23 Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."
This is a turning point in Jesus' preparation for His disciples. From now on He will teach clearly about what they can expect so they will be prepared when He reaches the climax of His ministry. From the beginning He was fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the coming of the Messiah: healing the sick, casting out demons, giving hope to the downtrodden and broken hearted. But He will also be fulfilling Isaiah's prophecies of God's suffering servant who will die for the sake of His people (Is 42-53) "Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many and win pardon for their offenses (Is 53:12b).
Question: Jesus tells them it is His destiny to die,
but what does he also tell them?
Answer: That He will be raised on the third day.
Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to
come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For
whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my
sake will save it.
Next Jesus tells them something that is incredible. The cross was the symbol of Roman execution. It was the most excruciating form of capital punishment and was only reserved for non-Romans.
Question: What three verbs does Jesus use in the three commands He gives the disciples in verse 23?
Answer: He tells them to:
Question: What did Jesus mean by the commands in verses 23-24?
Answer: He meant that true discipleship is based on the willingness "to deny" selfish desires by daily dying to oneself in order to live for Christ—willingly "to take" and endure those struggles/crosses that are necessary in order "to follow" Jesus' teachings faithfully and obediently in service to Christ and His Kingdom. It means completely identifying with Christ's message even to the point of death. But the promise is whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ will live eternally in His heavenly Kingdom.
Luke 9:25-26 What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Question: What is Jesus' warning?
Answer: Earthly profit is only temporal and is not worth one's eternal soul. The cost of denying Christ for earthly pleasures or fear of human reprisal will be Christ's protection of the Day of Judgment.
Luke 9:27 Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."
Jesus is referring to His glory which Peter, James and John will witness in the event of His Transfiguration. He is also referring to His Resurrection, Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which the Apostles and disciples, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, will witness.
Luke 9:28-36 ~ The Transfiguration of the Christ
28 About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. 29 While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he was saying. 34 While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." 36 After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
The disciples and Apostles must have been frightened and discouraged after Jesus' prediction of His death. To give them a vision to grasp in their darkest hour when the prediction of His death is fulfilled, Jesus took three Apostles "Peter, James, and John "up a "mountain" to witness a manifestation of His glory that confirms He is the Son of God and that He will come again in glory when the suffering He predicted has been fulfilled. These three Apostles will also be taken apart from the others when Jesus faces His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Question: What significance can be attached to the
location of this experience on a mountain? See Gen 22:2, 11; Ex 19:16-20; 1
Kng 18:19-39; 19:11-18; 1 Chr 21:15-17; 2 Chr 3:1; and Mt 5:1-2.
Answer: Mighty works/revelations of God often took place on mountains, including the Theophany of God on Mt. Sinai.
There are two traditions identifying the mountain of the Transfiguration. One tradition names Mt. Hermon at Caesarea Philippi, but the more popular tradition identifies Mt. Tabor, an isolated mountain about six days journey from Caesarea Philippi, west of the Sea of Galilee in the northeast portion of the Plain of Esdraelon that rises to a height of 1,843 feet. Mt. Tabor has been celebrated as the site of the Transfiguration since the 4th century AD.
As the new Moses, Jesus ascends the mountain "not to find a revelation of God but to give a revelation of God the Son to His three Apostles: Peter, James and John. Verse 1 discloses that it was eight days after Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah and the first prediction of His Passion that they went up "the mountain to pray." Matthew and Mark's Gospels call it a "high mountain" that they reach six days after the first prediction of His Passion (Mt 17:1; Mk 9:2). Some scholars have tried to reconcile the discrepancy by suggested that it was a six day journey from Caesarea Philippi to the mountain and on the eighth day they ascended. Some of the Fathers of the Church interpret the "eighth day" to suggest a connection to Jesus' resurrected glory on the "eighth day," the day after the seventh day Sabbath (Lk 23:56; 24:1-7).(6)
Luke 9:29 While he was praying his face changed in
appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.
Question: The change in the appearance of His face recalls what description of a prophet in the Old Testament? See Ex 34:29-35.
Answer: The description recalls Moses' radiant face after being in the presence of God.
In St. Matthew's account, he describes Jesus' face as radiant and his garment as "as white as light" (Mt 17:2). This description also recalls Daniel's vision of the "man" dressed in linen with a belt of fine gold around his waist, whose "body was like chrysolite, his face shone like lightening, his eyes were like fiery torches, his arms and feet looked like burnished bronze, and his voice sounded like the roar of a multitude (Dan 10:5-6). The divine personage Daniel saw may have been an angel or the pre-Incarnate Christ. Daniel's vision is similar to the vision St. John saw of the glorified Jesus in Revelation 1:12-15.
Luke 9:30-31 30 And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Moses and Elijah also appeared in transcendent glory and discussed with Jesus the coming hour of His "exodus," meaning His departure, from Jerusalem (Lk 9:30-31).
Question: What do Moses and Elijah represent in
Answer: They represent the Law and the prophets.
Question: What is the "exodus" from Jerusalem that
they discussed with Jesus?
Answer: The events of His death, burial, Resurrection and Ascension when He will make His "exodus" (departure) from His earthly existence to the Heavenly Kingdom.
The disciples and Apostles knew Jesus in His human form, but in the encounter on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus revealed Himself in His divine glory in the presence of the Old Covenant Law-giver and liberator, Moses, and the prophet Elijah. In the epiphany on the Mt. of Transfiguration, the three Apostles witnessed the coming together of the Old and New Covenants with Christ as the beginning and the end of divine revelation. The Old Covenant Church was represented by Moses and Elijah who embodied the Law and the prophets of the old Israel, and the New Covenant was represented by Peter, James, and John who embodied the hierarchy of the new Israel, the Church of the people of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth (CCC 751-52). It was a vision of the supernatural the Apostles would need to strengthen themselves and their brother disciples in the covenant ordeal they were to face in the final year of Jesus' ministry.
Luke 9:33 As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he was saying.
John's Gospel does not mention the Transfiguration. St. John rarely repeats what has been sufficiently covered in the Synoptic Gospels, but he does mention in the second year of Jesus' ministry (which began in the feeding of the 5 thousand) that Jesus went to Jerusalem for the pilgrim feast of Sukkoth, known in English as the Feast of Booths/Shelters or Tabernacles (Jn 7:1-2, 10). The covenant obligations for the festival are given in Leviticus 23:33-43. In Leviticus 23:42 God commanded: During this week every native Israelite among you shall dwell in booths, that your descendants may realize that, when I led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, I made them dwell in booths, I, the LORD am your God." The festival lasted a significant eight days (Lev 23:33, 39; Num 29:12, 35).
Perhaps Peter made the suggestion to build booths because the event of the Transfiguration took place near the time of the festival of Booths/Tabernacles.
Question: If this is the case, what has Peter suggested
but perhaps not completely understood? Notice that Jesus does not rebuke
Answer: Perhaps Peter has suggested they do not need to keep the Old Covenant feast in Jerusalem to offer worship in the presence of God when they can worship God the Son on the mountain in the presence of the great prophets. But he probably doesn't fully realize that the old covenant order is coming to an end and it commands and prohibitions will no longer be binding.
When Jesus' work in fulfilling the Law is completed, as He promised in Matthew 5:18 and will announce in the New Covenant at the Last Supper (Lk 22:19-20) and the fulfillment/finish of the Old Covenant from the Cross (Jn 19:30), the moral law will remain but the religious commands and prohibitions will be transformed into New Covenant worship and feasts (Heb 8:13; 9:11-15; 10:11-18).
Luke 9:34-36 While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over [overshadowed] them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." 36 After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
The voice is the same voice that was heard when Jesus was baptized (Lk 3:22).
Question: How is the Most Holy Trinity manifested in
Answer: God the Father's voice is heard from heaven, God the Son is present in His glory, and God the Holy Spirit is represented by the overshadowing cloud.
Question: When in the past has the presence of God
the Holy Spirit been manifested in a cloud?
The word for the shadow of the cloud cast over them is episkiazo; it is the same word found in the account of the Holy Spirit overshadowing the Virgin Mary in the Incarnation (Lk 1:35) and the same word that is used in the Greek translation of Exodus when God's Spirit overshadowed the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 40:34). A cloud is a frequent vehicle for the manifestation of God's presence in Scripture (for some additional examples see Ex 16:10; 19:9; 24:15-16; 33:9, 34:5; 2 Mac 2:8; Acts 1:9; Rev 11:12; 14:14).
Question: How is this significant event in which
Jesus is "transfigured" tied both in time and meaning to the event of Peter's
confession of the Christ and the prediction of His coming Passion? What is the
message of the Divine Voice the Apostles hear from heaven?
Answer: The pronouncement of the Divine Voice, "this is my beloved Son," is confirmation of Peter's confession of Jesus as Messiah and "listen to Him" is a warning to listen to Jesus' announcement of His coming Passion and to cooperate in His mission.
The command of the Divine Voice of God from heaven, "Listen to Him," is also a confirmation that Jesus is the prophet like Moses that God promised the people in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. That prophecy ends with a promise and a command: I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command. If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it (Dt 18:18-19 NJB).
Luke 9:36 After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
Like the children of Israel who heard the voice of God in the Theophany at Sinai (Ex 20:18) and like the prophet Daniel who experienced a divine appearance (Dan 9:15-18; 10:7-9), the three Apostles are amazed at what they experienced. "At that time" they did not tell anyone but shared their experience later. Peter wrote about the Transfiguration years later in a letter to the universal Church: We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him for the majestic glory, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain (2 Pt 1:16-18).
Luke 9:37-43 ~ Jesus heals a boy with a demon
37 On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 There was a man in the crowd who cried out, "Teacher, I beg you, look at my son; he is my only child. 39 For a spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams and it convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it releases him only with difficulty, wearing him out. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out but they could not. 41 Jesus said in reply, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and endure you? Bring your son here." 42 As he was coming forward, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion; but Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and returned him to his father. 43 And all were astonished by the majesty of God.
Jesus gave the Apostles the power to cast out demons (Lk 9:1). While Jesus, Peter, James and John were on the mountain, the other nine Apostles were continuing their mission to heal and preach the coming of the kingdom. Jesus tells them that their failure on this occasion is because of their lack of faith (Lk 9:41; Mt 17:19-20). It is a failure which reflects badly on their credibility as Jesus' ministers. Perhaps they were intimidated by the power of the demon. However, Jesus successfully casts the demon out of the boy.
Luke 9:44-45 ~ The second prophecy of His Passion
44 While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, "Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men." 45 But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Luke's Greek audience would find it inconceivable that someone who was divine could be killed by men, just as the Apostles and disciples found Jesus' statement incredible. Perhaps it wasn't so much that they did not understand but that they did not want to understand. They had seen Jesus' acts of power and authority over demons. It was probably inconceivable to them that He would not exercise the same power and authority over mere men.
In these next two events we see rivalry and the sense of exclusivity that is the result of intolerance towards outsiders, actions that Jesus condemns as not being the proper conduct of true discipleship.
Luke 9:46-48 ~ Jesus' teaching on greatness in the
46 An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side 48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever received me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest."
Perhaps the separation of the three from the others and their privilege of witnessing Jesus in His glory in the Transfiguration experience has made the other Apostles uneasy about where they stand in the Kingdom of the Messiah.
Question: In the secular world, what was greatness
Answer: In the secular world greatness was based on social rank, wealth, or a special ability.
It is Jesus' teaching in this passage that those standards of greatness in the world are not what count in His Kingdom. Jesus uses the visible metaphor of a little child as His teaching point. The Greek word in the biblical text is paidion, a word used to refer to a child under the age of twelve (IBGE, vol. IV, Luke 9:47-48).
Question: Why does Jesus use a little child to
illustrate His teaching point? What differentiates a little child from adults?
Answer: Adults are for the most part self-sufficient, but little children are completely dependent on someone else for their care or they cannot survive. A little child has no concern for rank or status and only seeks to please his parent.
Question: How is greatness measured in the Kingdom of
Heaven unlike how "greatness" is measured on earth?
Answer: Greatness in heaven is measured by child-like humility, obedience, self-emptying and total dependence on God. Whoever is more child-like in this way is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Question: Which verse gives the answer to the
question that the disciples asked in verse 46? How does Jesus define
"greatness" in His Kingdom?
Answer: Verse 48b For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.
Contrary to "greatness" according to the world's understanding, Jesus defines "greatness" in the Kingdom as childlike faith and humility.
Luke 9:49-50 ~ An exorcist using Jesus' name
49 Then John said in reply, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company." 50 Jesus said to him, "Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you."
John Zebedee, the "least" of the Apostles if Bible scholars are correct in identifying him as the youngest, has apparently not learned from the previous teaching. The man's success has evidently sparked the jealousy of the Apostles who were unsuccessful in casting the demon out of the boy earlier.
Question: What is Jesus' point in telling John and
the others to let the man heal in His name?
Answer: The ministers of the Kingdom are not "exclusive" they are "inclusive." There is no room for jealousy in the spiritual warfare that is necessary to advance the Kingdom.
Question for reflection or group discussion:
The Apostles' jealousy concerning the man who was successfully casting out demons in Jesus' name is a reminder of the tolerance Christians need to demonstrate with each other. It is more beneficial for the Kingdom when we set our differences aside and work together to advance our Christian faith and to vanquish evil. In what ways can Catholics and Protestants work together to advance the Church?
1. The Tosephta is a redaction and supplement to Jewish Oral Law that is in the Mishnah (tosephta means "supplement or addition"). It was compiled, according to rabbinic tradition, by Rabbis Hiya and Oshaiah after the completion of the Mishnah in c. 220 AD.
2. It is possible that Mary of Cleophas and the Virgin Mary's sister/kinswoman is the same woman (see Jn 19:25 and note that the original Greek text is written without any grammatical helps like commas, etc.). It was common for kinsmen, kinswomen and covenant members to be referred to as "brother" or "sister": see Rom 16:11; 1 Cor 9:5 (literally "sister" referring to a Christian wife); Jam 2:16 and 2 Jn 13. "Mary of Celophas/Cleopas" is never called the "wife" of this man, so she may be the daughter of the man or the wife. James the less is the son Mary of Cleophas (Mk 15:40; 16:1) and there is also the Apostles James, said to be the son of Alphaeus (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13). These family relationships are uncertain. It is possible that Mary was the daughter of the disciple Cleophas (see Lk 24:13, 18) and the wife of Alphaeus, or there are several different men named James, one being James the Apostle, in addition to the Lord's "brother/kinsman," James the Bishop of Jerusalem and James Zebedee.
3. See the non-canonical document 4 Ezra 8:41, written c. 100 AD: "For just as the farmer sows many seeds upon the ground and plants a multitude of seedlings, and yet not all that have been sown will come up in due season, and not all that were planted will take root; so all those who have been sown in the world will not be saved."
4. Herod the Great's son Philip is called the "brother" of Herod Antipas when he was in fact a half-brother (Lk 3:19; Mt 14:3-4; Mk 6:17-18). Peter calls the Jews "brothers" in Acts 2:20, and St. Paul calls Christian women "sisters" in Rom 16:1; 1 Cor 7:15 and 9:5, just to give a few examples.
5. Bishop Eusebius' account of the statues erected in honor of the healing miracle of the woman who suffered from an issue of blood is repeated by several other early Christian writers including Sozomen in Church History, 5.21, and Philostorgius in his Church History, 7.3. Both Sozomen and Philostorgius record that the statues in Caesarea Philippi were destroyed by order of the Roman Emperor Julian (an apostate from Christianity) in the late 4th century AD. Archaeologists excavating in the ruins of the old city of Caesarea Philippi have discovered a 1st century AD Roman period dwelling with Christian symbols on the interior walls. It is believed that this house was the site of a 1st century AD Christian "church home," or "domus ecclesia," a place of Christian worship before the time of the Christian Roman Emperor Constantine. It is possible that archaeologists have discovered the home of the woman whose faith in Jesus Christ cured her of an illness from which she had suffered for twelve years, and in her gratitude she not only erected statues to commemorate her healing but provided her home as the meeting place for the early Christian disciples of Jesus the Messiah.
6. See Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, 7.6.7: It says "about eight days after these words, he took those three alone and led them onto the mountain." Why is it that he says "eight days after these words"? He that hears the words of Christ and believes will see the glory of Christ at the time of the resurrection. The resurrection happened on the eighth day ..."
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
Catechism references for this lesson (*indicates that Scripture is either quoted or paraphrased in the citation):
Lk 8: 6
Lk 9: 28
496-99, 500, 502-07
Old and new Israel
Purpose of the Old Covenant