We read today from the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Luke – a chapter which saints and scholars across the centuries have told us is the centre of the Gospel. Before Jesus begins his journey towards Jerusalem, he begins this process by gathering the disciples together (always a sign of the church) and he gives them all power and authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. A rather impressive list of things to add to a CV! The disciples go out, and discover that they indeed have this power and authority. Then uniquely in Luke, we are told that Herod is perplexed by Jesus and asks the question: “Who is this man who does all these things?”
Jesus then takes the disciples away to be by themselves, and they find a crowd of people who have gone before them – so Jesus sets about teaching them and healing the sick. At the end of the day, the disciples – who only a few days before have been sent out with all power and authority to cast out demons and heal the sick – ask Jesus to send the crowds away to find something to eat and places to stay. The response of Jesus is to “give them something to eat yourselves.” How slow they are to learn or how quick to forget? Then, when the disciples are again alone with Jesus, he asks them “Who do the crowds say that I am?” and then after they give their answers, he asks again “who do you say that I am?” to which Peter replies “The Messiah of God.” So within the space of a few verses, the question of the identity of Jesus is posed three times.
It is then that Jesus introduces the outcome of his life and ministry – that it will all end in Jerusalem with his passion and death. Discipleship is about taking up the cross each day. All of these passages are then connected to the scene that we just read (beginning at chapter 9:28) by the introductory phrase (which for unknown reasons are omitted from the lectionary) that this happened “eight days later” – time signatures are always important in scripture, because it reminds us that these events are never disconnected and must not be read in isolation.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 8am (11’04”)