(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Luke Ch. 9 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv.1-36) Jesus and his disciples began their journey from Galilee. They walked up north to Caesarea Philippi, eventually heading for Jerusalem. While these verses of this chapter can be divided into many passages, the main focus of today’s scriptures reading and reflection is on the road trips of the disciples.
The disciples were sent by Jesus to preach the Word of God and they were given the power and authority of the Lord prior to any outreach to people. What is Jesus’ power and authority? His miracle of five loaves and two fish reminded us once again that He can make fewer things into plenty and make the impossible possible. How influential is Jesus? He had shaken the society back then, and even Herod, the tetrarch, wanted to see Jesus when he heard what Jesus had done.
Does the command of the Lord Jesus given to his disciples during their send-off still apply today? What can you learn from it?
1. Looking up to God the provider: Jesus told them: take nothing for the journey. The disciples would have to turn their eyes upon Jesus, rather than depending on materials. They would have to totally trust in God who can provide everything that they need. God is able to supply us with everything we need, and he can do more.
2. Relying on the power of the Lord: When disciples went out to preach the Gospel of the Lord, they were shown to have the power and authority of the Lord in them. Likewise, such power and authority are given to us when we evangelize and so do not look down to ourselves! However, such authority is not meant to force others to accept the gospel. If people do not welcome us, just turn around and leave them.
3. Learning from the sacrifice of Jesus: The disciples must also be prepared to suffer as Jesus told them, “The Son of Man must suffer many things” and he declared publicly, ” If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Such things are meant to help disciples realize that the person they had been following is Christ who was about to suffer. Likewise, we should set our mind to suffer and deny ourselves as well.
(vv37-62) From this moment on, Jesus and his disciples were approaching Jerusalem where Jesus would suffer, die, and rise, and where all prophecies would be fulfilled. They entered a village of the Samaritans.
The separation between Jews and Samaritans dates back to the beginning of Israel’s division into two kingdoms: in the South – Judah, centered on Jerusalem, and in the north – Israel, centered on Samaria. After the overthrow of the northern kingdom by Assyria, there had been an increasing number of intermarriages between Israelis and Gentiles in the northern kingdom. Samaritans were considered to be impure descent by Jews in the era of Jesus and Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (John 4:9)
Seeing the people there did not welcome Jesus and his disciples, James and John said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (v.54) (please see 2 Kings 1:9-12 for what Elijah
did). No wonder Jesus had given them the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). But he rebuked them, “…for the Son of Man came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them” (according to some manuscripts).
Looking through this passage, a series of roadblocks and problems were encountered by the disciples as they followed the Lord:
- Not able to drive out demons on their own (vv.37-42): Because they did not believe it.
- Not understanding what Jesus was going to do (vv.42-45): Jesus was about to be delivered into the hands of men and suffered to death.
- Not seeing the hierarchy in God’s Kingdom (vv.46-48): “An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.”
- Not knowing the principle of the Lord’s work (vv.49-50): “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
- Not realizing the purpose of the Lord’s birth (vv.51-56): Jesus “…came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them”
- Not knowing the conditions for following the Lord: Pay the price, seize the opportunities, and be fully committed
On their journey with Jesus, the disciples needed to be taught many things. They continued to learn a lot of things while they made a lot of mistakes. Same to us, brothers and sisters, let us learn together. Do not be like the man who puts his hand to the plow and frequently looks back. Instead, let us follow the Lord closely as a group. We do not walk in front of God, nor to fall far behind God, and never to leave the group!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)