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Bible Commentaries
Luke 9

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-62

Luke 9:1 . He called his twelve disciples together, privately, it would seem, and gave them power and authority to preach, and to heal diseases. Those powers must go together as was foretold in Isaiah 35:0. This divine commission was ground of confidence to all thus sent into the world. A minister of Christ without ministerial powers, would be like an ambassador at a foreign court without instructions. They have the keys of the church for the admission of converts, and power to deny the sacramental bread to profane persons; yea, by faith and prayer, they have power to shut and open heaven. Revelation 11:1-6.

Luke 9:13 . Give ye them to eat. See note on John 6:5-13.

Luke 9:23 . If any man will come after me. See on Mark 8:34-38.

Luke 9:31 . And spake of his decease: εξοδον , departure. See on Matthew 17:3. On what else should prophets speak, but of the accomplishment of prophecy? This vision gave the apostles rank with the first of seers.

Luke 9:38 . Look upon my son. See note on Mark 9:17.

Luke 9:47 . Jesus took a child, and set him by him. The narrative is more fully related in Matthew 18:3.

Luke 9:55 . Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. When our Saviour was going to keep the passover at Jerusalem his company became great, and it was necessary for the villagers to be apprized that they might make larger preparations to lodge the worshippers. But by keeping the passover at Jerusalem the Samaritans supposed that Jesus decided their old controversy in favour of the Jews, and that his popularity would for ever fix the decision. This stirred up the animosity of their hearts not to receive him: and one wrong spirit being apt to produce another, it stirred up a spirit of vengeance in the breasts of the two brothers, James and John. Here we have to lament the bigotry of the human heart, which in all ages has been the disgrace of religion. It were indeed to be wished that the church of Christ was one in doctrine, in discipline, and communion in all nations, and genuine piety endeavours to make it so; but where pride and partiality prevail it cannot be. The church of Rome says she has effected this unity, and condemned the whole christian world which does not bow to Rome; and yet she never could be united within her own pale. Her schisms and controversies have subjected her to far greater inconveniences than protestant nations ever sustained from their religious sects. Besides, much good results from several religious denominations sharing in the worship of the nation. They vie with one another in preaching and in living; and they afford the human mind, impelled by instinct to love variety, an opportunity of cordially embracing those tenets and that mode of worship, which seem most congenial to its view. Yes, and where the government is wise, alike to protect the whole, they rival one another in loyalty and public spirit.

As to the peculiar tenets of religious sects, the weak minds of men are very much in the power of the books they read, and the doctrines they hear. A habit of listening to certain doctrines settles a kind of conviction on the mind, that we really cannot help our religious views. It is only the giants in intellect and genius that can trace all doctrines to their source, and distinguish error from truth. Hence our mental errors claim the same compassion as blindness and lameness in the body. Hence also the justness of our Lord’s rebuke of James and John, when they wished to consume a small town with fire from heaven, which simply rejected but did not persecute their master. This proposed vengeance was greater than the fault; it would have destroyed them in their sins, and left no time for repentance. Many of the Samaritans afterwards embraced the gospel, and the district abounded with churches. Acts 9:31. But this improper zeal would have frustrated all the glory which followed.

Mark how they sheltered this zeal under the high example of Elijah, who did indeed twice destroy fifty men. But this was under a most daring spirit of persecution, and these men were destroyed to save a nation from idolatry and error. The circumstances therefore were very dissimilar; and the two zealous brothers, by asking their master first, teach us that severity in such cases should never be indulged.

The rebuke which Jesus gave those brothers is highly instructive. Ye know not your spirit. It was a spirit of rash and unsanctified revenge; and the more dangerous, as they thought it was of God. And surely there is no truth more strongly and clearly demonstrated than that the persecutors of the church have been actuated by a wrong spirit. Posterity has therefore branded their memory as infamous. They have destroyed or banished the most peaceful subjects of the nation; they have caused their manufacturers to emigrate, and ultimately brought a recoil of vengeance from heaven on themselves, and on their less offending children. Let us therefore, instead of persecuting one another, cultivate the opposite virtues of harmony, peace and love, so shall we have joy at the appearing of our common Lord. See on Mark 9:38.


In addition to former reflections on the subjects contained in this chapter, we would stay a moment on the three cases which fell short of conversion. The first is that of a scribe acquainted with the law, as in Matthew 8:19. Touched with the glory of the Saviour’s words and works, he offered to become his disciple before he had counted the cost, and all the sacrifices which ministers must make for the salvation of souls. A scholar, educated in all the softer habits of life, to fare hard, to work hard, and to sleep hard, are irksome habits to flesh and blood.

The second was willing to follow, but he had obsequies first to pay to his father’s remains; and while doing these, and discharging his executive duties, his good desires might die away.

The third asked time to bid farewel to his relatives, whom he would find hostile to his novel views, and determined to oppose his change of heart and life. In all these cases, religion was only secondary. Therefore the farms and the merchandise would divert them from following the Saviour; whereas, religion should ever be the predominant principle of the heart.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 9". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/luke-9.html. 1835.
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