Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
The gospel refers to the gospel of Christ or the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom. These are all different labels for the gospel of grace. See entry for The Gospel.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,
Herod the tetrarch; see entry for Luke 3:1.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
(a) Save his life. The original word for life (psuchē) usually refers to soul-life. (The word psychology comes from the word psuchē.) It is the fleshly life we inherit from Adam.
(b) Will lose it. Live for the appetites of the flesh and you will lose your true self. Run after the inferior pleasures of the world and you will lose your soul. What profit is that (Matt. 16:26)?
(c) Loses his life for My sake. There are two ways to lose your life. The first is to be consumed by your own appetites until your life is little more than eating and drinking and running after fleeting pleasures. The second is to turn your back on that inferior life because you have found something better by far.
(d) Will save it. Real life – the kind Jesus offers – is found in fellowship with God.
The bottom-line hasn’t changed. God is inviting us to a love-relationship based on trust. He wants us to look to him as our Source (Matt. 6:25). See entry for New Life.
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
(a) The Father; see entry for Luke 2:49.
(b) The holy angels; see entry for Mark 8:38.
Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”
My Son. Some manuscripts have “this is my beloved Son,” and this is how it appears in the other Gospel accounts (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7).
But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
(a) No one, after putting his hand to the plow. Count the cost of following Christ.
Jesus is not speaking to believers but those who have not yet decided to follow him. He’s saying, “I’m an all-or-nothing proposition.” Just as you can’t be single and married at the same time, you can’t follow and not follow Jesus at the same time.
(b) Fit. Those who leap in wholeheartedly are a good fit for the kingdom. Those who are double-minded and unstable are a miserable fit. They’re at the party but not on the dance floor. They’re at the banquet but they’re not eating.
(c) Fit for the kingdom of God. We must forsake all to enter the kingdom.
Jesus doesn’t want us doing things by half. His kingdom is not something you accommodate to your life like a golf-club membership. His kingdom is like a party with the best music, food, and drink. Jesus is saying, “Don’t be a wall-flower. Get out on the dance floor with me!”
Some translations say, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” This gives the impression Jesus is looking for hard workers. However, the words for service aren’t in the Bible and his yoke is easy and light (Matt 11:29-30).
The takeaway is not “work hard for Jesus” but “are you ready for the adventure of life shared with Christ?” Jesus offers us rest and life, not work and servitude.
Further reading: “Keep plowing or die!”
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