Daily Devotional

September 3, 2019

Daybreak: Luke 9:37-62

“And [Jesus] said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” (Luke 9:48)

Soon after my wife and I moved to the city where we currently live and began worshiping at our small branch church, I met a man who truly exemplified the concluding words of our focus verse, “. . . for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” This brother wasn’t musically gifted, nor was he physically imposing. (When he was younger, his friends used to call him “Shorty,” which provides a clue regarding his stature.) At the time we learned to know him, he recently had been widowed and was in his retirement years. He easily could have gone unnoticed.

However, we couldn’t help but observe the twinkle in his eye and his genuine friendliness. We saw how quick he was to jump to his feet to testify for his Lord. Then we started noticing how he helped out in a lot of little (and some big) ways around church. He helped clean on a regular basis, cheerfully vacuuming the sanctuary. More than once after a special event, I saw him taking home giant black bags of garbage because the dumpster in the back was full.

Beyond those more or less public activities, he was very faithful in his private life. I discovered later that when people moved away from our city, he continued to mail them Sunday school lessons and devotional materials regularly over a period of years. Then there were times in the prayer room when I would overhear him praying for missionaries and Christians around the world.

One of this brother’s favorite Scriptures was 1 Corinthians 15:58, and he lived by it daily — he was an example of being “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” I am sure he did not think he was anybody special or better than others. However, in Heaven, I believe he will be granted a great reward for his unpretentious faithfulness.

In today’s focus verse, Jesus pointed out that true greatness in life is not found in self-promotion but in sacrificial love toward God and other people. Nothing we do will earn us a place in the heavenly kingdom; salvation is the gift of God, and was made possible solely by Jesus’ death on the Cross. But once we have received this wonderful gift, is there anything for us to do? The answer is an emphatic yes! In fact, one of the key messages of our text is what God expects of those who follow Him: we are to “receive” (welcome or care for) others, to exemplify humility, and to deny ourselves.

How have you served lately — especially those who are unable to reciprocate? Are you willing to care for others even when your efforts are largely unnoticed? Your honest response to these questions may provide a good evaluation of your true greatness in God’s eyes.

Background

The first portion of today’s text (verses 37-43) took place after Jesus and His three closest disciples returned from the Mount of Transfiguration to find the other disciples surrounded by a crowd of people. In Jesus’ absence, the disciples had been unable to cast a demon out of a tormented young boy. At the father’s request, Jesus quickly healed the boy.

In the parallel account in Matthew, the boy is described by the word “lunatic” (from the Latin word lunaticus meaning “of the moon,” pointing to the ancient superstition which suggested that seizures were caused by changes in the moon). Also in Matthew, Jesus explained that the disciples’ inability to cast out the devil was because of unbelief. In Mark’s account, Jesus gave His disciples, who had questioned Him privately, another important truth regarding spiritual effectiveness: “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

Following this incident, Jesus and His disciples left the region and went through Galilee with the intention of remaining incognito (see Mark 9:30). This may have been so Jesus could spend time alone with His disciples to teach them. Several weighty subjects were discussed as they traveled: for the second time, Jesus predicted His coming death (verses 44-45), and also spoke on true discipleship (verses 46-50).

Verse 51 marks a division in the text, and begins the account of Jesus’ ministry in Perea, the territory east of Jordan. His life was in constant danger during this six-month period, which lasted until His final Passover. Most of the accounts in this section (which ends at Luke 19:27), appear only in Luke. The majority of Christ’s parables are contained in these chapters.

Also, verse 51 indicates Jesus’ determination to go to Jerusalem. His journey was not a straightforward, continuous trip but rather an extended period of teaching ministry, during which Jesus looked ahead with fixed purpose to the culminating events of His earthly life which would occur in Jerusalem.

Jesus and His disciples faced an antagonistic reception from the Samaritans (verses 51-56) who were of mixed race and semi-pagan in their religion. The Samaritans typically were hostile to Jews, and regularly refused overnight shelter for travelers who were headed to Jerusalem for religious festivals. In return, the Jews considered the Samaritans to be on a level with dogs. The antipathy between them was so great that frequently travelers would walk around Samaria rather than through it, although this lengthened their journey significantly. Jesus’ disciples wished to call down judgment upon these people, but Jesus’ response was to remind them that He had come not to destroy men but to call them to repentance.

In the final verses of this text (verses 57-62), Jesus taught about the meaning of true discipleship.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

IV.    The ministry of the Son of Man
    D.    The conclusion of the ministry of the Son of Man
        4.    The revelation of the Son of Man
            d.    Concerning His power (9:37-43)
            e.    Concerning His death (9:44-45)
        5.    The teaching of the Son of Man (9:46-50)
            a.    Concerning humility (9:46-48)
            b.    Concerning toleration (9:49-50)
V.    The rejection of the Son of Man
    A.    The commencement of the rejection of the Son of Man
        1.    The rejection in Samaria (9:51-56)
        2.    The rejection of His call (9:57-62)

A Closer Look

  1. What was the point of contention the disciples discussed between themselves? How did Jesus settle the matter?

  2. What do you think was meant by the statement in verse 51 that Jesus “stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem”?

  3. What are some services you could do for the good of others for which you probably would get little if any credit?

Conclusion

True greatness is manifested by humble service.

Reference Materials