Pride (Luke 9:37-56)

This week we will continue our study of the Gospel of Luke by examining verses 37 through 56 of chapter 9.  In these verses we will learn from the failures of the disciples of Jesus about the dangers associated with pride.  Pride is the cause of all five failures because verses 46-48 show us a glimpse of their prideful hearts that wanted to exalt themselves over all else.   First, in verses 37-43, we learn that pride weakens your power and authority.  Second, in verses 44-45, we learn that pride limits your understanding.  Third, in verses 46-48, we learn that pride causes fights.  Fourth, in verses 49-50, we learn that pride produces division.  Fifth, in verses 51-56, we learn that pride restrains compassion.

Pride Weakens Power and Authority

In verses 37-43, Jesus comes down from the mountain with three of His disciples to find a great crowd gathered and a man complaining about Jesus’ disciples’ inability to heal his demon-possessed son.  This weakness is shocking given that in Luke 9:1-2 Jesus “gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.”  The disciples have the power and authority; so why were they not able to cast out the demon?  The answer is pride.  Jesus calls His disciples a “faithless and twisted generation” because they were slow to trust.  A prideful man says, “I can do it myself.”  Jesus calls us to humbly trust in Him.

Pride Limits Understanding

In verses 44-45, Jesus tells His disciples “Let these words sink into your ears…but they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it.  And they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.”  It is remarkable that Jesus tells them to understand but they did not understand because of pride.  They were also so prideful that they “were afraid to ask Him about this saying.”  A prideful man says, “The appearance of understanding is better than actually understanding.”  Jesus calls us to humbly learn from Him and to remember that we constantly need to be growing in understanding.

Pride Causes Fights

In verses 46-48, Jesus’ disciples begin to argue amongst themselves “as to which of them was the greatest.”  This was not a humble fight where they were saying, “You are! No, you are!”  This was more of a: “No you are not, I am!”  Jesus brought a child to them and told them “He who is least among you all is the one who is great.”  A prideful man puts himself and his needs before all others, but Jesus calls us to put others and their needs first.

Pride Produces Division

In verses 49-50, Jesus’ disciples try to stop someone who is working in Jesus’ name because “he does not follow with us.”  The disciples felt that they were the only ones who could do anything for Jesus.  Jesus corrects them by saying, “The one who is not against you is for you.”  A prideful man says, “If you do not believe exactly how I believe then we cannot cooperate together.”  Jesus calls us to cooperate with all His followers.

Pride Restrains Compassion

In verses 51-56, Jesus tried to enter a village of the Samaritans “but the people did not receive Him”.  When James and John saw this they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”  Jesus’ response is quick and forceful, “He turned and rebuked them.”  A prideful man’s pride is quickly wounded and a wounded pride wants vengeance.  Jesus reminded them and reminds us that this was “the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19) not a time for judgment.  Jesus calls us to show compassion to all.

In Conclusion

Let us learn from the disciples and seek to put to death the pride in our own lives.  A healthy Christian and a healthy church is built upon the foundation of Christ and is held together by humbly serving God and others.  We are told in 1 Peter 5:5, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Questions for Reflection

  1. How does pride weaken spiritual power and authority?
  2. How does pride limit ones understanding of spiritual matters?
  3. How does pride cause fights and quarrels?
  4. How does pride produce division?
  5. How does pride restrain compassion?