Chapter nine is a brief survey of a dozen, mostly unrelated, events. Luke’s sixty-verse fly-over took Matthew nine chapters (see Matthew 10-18), although the order is different between the two writers. Considering that these are some of the most “famous” or “popular” events in the Gospels – sending out the Twelve, the feeding of the five thousand (the only miracle recorded in all four gospels), Peter’s confession of the Christ, the Transfiguration, etc. – it seems that Luke did not want to skip them but did not see them as highly important to his purpose.
The key to Luke 9 is really verse 51: “Now when the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set out resolutely to go to Jerusalem.” It is the turning point in the book. This follows two declarations proving that Jesus knew why he was going there – to “suffer many things and be rejected…and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (vs. 22) and “to be betrayed into the hands of men” (vs. 44). The two events following verse 51 fit this theme. First, Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans, who had once gladly welcomed him (John 4:39-41). Second, those who might have once answered the call to “follow me” began to offer excuses instead (vs. 57-62).
Truly following Jesus is a lifelong process of leaving behind anything that we currently love more than him. Biblical discipleship is all about Jesus, learning to know him better and love him more. The closer Jesus got to Jerusalem, the smaller the crowds would become.