As someone who taught Sunday school for many years, I remember teaching the stories in Luke 9 repeatedly. The miracle of feeding the five thousand and the healing of the demon- possessed boy are classics. However, this chapter is so much more than just a compilation of stories for a Sunday school class; there is so much gold here! I encourage you to read Luke 9 thoroughly to get a grasp of what God is showing us here.
As I read the chapter, I began to see things that I had skipped through and realized that the sequence in which each event was written truly has a purpose. I notice a pattern of behavior in the disciples: a cycle of faith transitioning to unbelief.
The chapter begins with Jesus sending out the twelve, and it says that they performed miracles in His name.
“So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. “ Luke 9:6 NIV
They tell others about Jesus, heal in his name, and experience the power and authority that Jesus gave them. The chapter continues with their return and they report to Jesus what they have seen. Shortly after there is a need for thousands of people to be fed.
They run to Jesus to tell Him to send the people away, but He responds unexpectedly; He asks them to feed the crowd. The disciples immediately focus on the limitations and completely forget about the power of Jesus. They quickly forgot the miracles they had just experienced! Jesus miraculously feeds the five thousand, and further in the chapter there is another need for a miracle.
“The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.’ ‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.’
Luke 9:37-41 (NIV)
I can picture Jesus responding with a “Seriously? I have shown you my power, you have been firsthand witnesses and you still are unable to use the power I have given you?”
Does this sound like a familiar scene?
It has happened to me! I have seen breakthrough in my life repeatedly, but as soon as something comes my way that is beyond my control I freeze; I get filled with fear and I forget about His power. My faith deflates and I am stuck not knowing what to do.
So how can we break this habit of unbelief? How can we shift our focus to ensure that we live our lives the way He intended them to be lived, as witnesses to others of Jesus’s power? I think that the book of Luke chapter 9 gives us an answer to this:
Spend time with Jesus–
The disciples spent a lot of time with Jesus, and even their faith was weakened when they encountered difficult situations. Walking with Jesus and experiencing His power helps build up our faith, and it is so necessary because just like the disciples, it does not take much for our focus to shift and our faith to diminish. So I encourage you, be intentional about your time with Him. Set a time to read His word and pray.
Understand who Jesus is-
spending time with Jesus also helps us understand who He is. In order to be used by God and experience His power, we need to fully understand Him.
In Luke 9:18, Jesus asks the disciples what people are saying about who He is. He then asks them in verse 20:
“’But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah.’” Luke 9:20 (NIV)
Later in the chapter, they experience a glorious scene during the Transfiguration (Verses 28-36). This encounter is an incredible display of His divine character and a glimpse of His glory.
“A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’” Luke 9:35
To me the scene portrays the importance of understanding who Jesus is. It is only when we truly understand Him that we are able to be used by Him.
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’”Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)
What does it mean to deny ourselves? Our automatic response to obstacles or struggles is to focus on how we can handle it and rely on our abilities. We have to stop and realize that we cannot handle it by ourselves. To deny ourselves means to shift the focus away from us and shift it to Jesus. When it stops being about us, we allow His power to flow through us.
Perhaps you are in a situation that you have tried to solve on your own and have failed or perhaps one that seems so difficult that you can’t understand how a breakthrough could ever arrive. Today, I remind you that His power is able to break every chain and to solve every situation. However, it is up to us to shift our focus and allow Jesus’s power to be manifest in our lives.