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Monday, 7 March 2016

Luke 9:18-20: Cards on the table

Finally Luke describes Jesus breaking free from the crowds for some time to pray alone. No details, except to say that only the twelve were with him.

The time for a debrief after their mission has come and gone, and on the agenda today for Jesus is a lengthy time in his Father's presence.

It's probably significant that Luke puts this straight after the feeding of the 5000. The other gospel writers imply that this was a watershed moment, that this miracle excited people's expectations to fever pitch.

Funny - why should one lunch have more impact than any number of healings? Maybe it's the potential implied - if you can do this, you can do anything.

For me, it's very significant that Jesus immediately retreats to pray. One of the temptations he faced when he was in the wilderness (remember that?) was to make food miraculously. Back then, he dismissed it disdainfully - "People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from God's mouth." Perhaps he's concerned that he might have yielded to this temptation now, and used his power for the wrong reason. So he spends time checking out with God where he stands. Is he still on the right path?

Then he carries out another check - asking his little focus group to take the temperature of public opinion. "Who do people say I am?"

He gets back the same rumour about John the Baptist raised from the dead. This is beginning to intrigue me. I've never noticed it before - somebody seems to be carrying on in the spirit of the Baptist, and people jump to the conclusion that a resurrection has occurred. I've always thought that Jesus' resurrection was so surprising, so unexpected that it exploded everybody's world. And yet here's evidence that the thought was already out there.


I've just got up from the computer and read my three commentaries on Luke. None of them have anything much to say about this point. Ah well - maybe it's just me.

On to the main point. Jesus applies his final litmus test - what are his inner circle thinking?

Back comes the decisive answer - "You are the messiah sent from God!"

They've got it.

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