The disciples failed that much–in one chapter. Kids make messes. That is part of what they do–naturally. Then they grow up. When the disciples got it, they really got it. So will you! Don’t be discouraged when you mess up, but grow from it. Failures are not final if you learn from them. This was their debut. Jesus “sent them out to proclaim the kingdom and to heal” (Luke 9:2). But…
1 THEY DIDN’T HAVE FAITH FOR A MIRACLE.
Jesus had plans to feed the multitude–they didn’t. “We have no more than five loaves and two fish–unless we are to go and buy food for all these people” (Luke 9:13). Philip even got out his calculator to prove it couldn’t happen (John 6:7).They knew how much they lacked, not how much Jesus had. And even after Jesus fed the crowd, they still didn’t have faith the next time around. Jesus marveled at two things–great faith and the lack of it. Upgrade your faith monitor!
2 PETER SPOKE OUT OF TURN.
“‘Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’–not knowing what he said” (Luke 9:33). Peter, if you don’t know what to say–don’t! He was comparing Jesus to these two great men. When they disappeared, it was time for the Father to speak, and He knew what to say: “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” The Son of God dwarfs all other heroes. Listen!
3 THE DISCIPLES COULD NOT CAST A DEMON OUT.
Jesus didn’t say, “I understand; this is a tough one.” He said, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” (9:41). Jesus expects a fight with the darkness and knows we can win it. Believe–and go for it!
4 THEY DID NOT UNDERSTAND SUFFERING.
“And they were afraid to ask him…” (45). Jesus spoke about his suffering and death many times, and it went over their heads. They were thinking glory, not gory. Peter was even bold enough to rebuke Jesus for speaking about death: “This shall never happen to you,” because Peter didn’t want it to happen to himself. But it did–and he was ready for it!
5 THEY ARGUED ABOUT GREATNESS.
They were in the presence of greatness, and they were still trying to climb the ladder. Jesus had to remind them that “he who is least among you all is the one who is great” (48). It’s not how high you can get but how low you can go!
6 THEY STOPPED A FOLLOWER WHO WASN’T IN THEIR BAND.
Call it sectarianism: our group is better than yours. “I am of Apollos.” Jesus encouraged them to be inclusive rather than exclusive. An embrace works better than a stiff-arm. “The one who is not against you is for you” (50).
7 JAMES AND JOHN WANTED TO CALL DOWN FIRE.
Judgment is not the first thing that comes to mind for Jesus in the face of rejection. It is for some of his followers. God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked…” (Ez. 33:11). Mercy wins over judgment. Sure hope you learn well when you mess up. (Thank you, Dave Heinrich, for the insights that led to this study!)