Wednesday, February 24
Luke 9:1-17 — Now this is a big dinner party
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9 But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.
10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then He took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed Him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to Him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”
14 (About five thousand men were there.)
But He said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. Then He gave them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Points of Interest:
- (v.1) “He gave them power and authority’—Jesus makes the Twelve into his deputies. He passes along to them His own mission, and the power and authority He uses to accomplish it.
- (v.5) “shake the dust off your feet”—By shaking the dust off their feet, they’re making clear that they and this town have nothing to do with one another. The Twelve are basically filling the role of John. They’re going ahead of Jesus to announce His coming, giving people the chance to prepare to welcome Him. If a town doesn’t welcome the disciples, they also won’t be ready to receive Jesus.
- (v.9) “I beheaded John”John has been executed since we last saw him. For some reason, Luke decides not to tell us the story of his death, as his source Mark does (Mark 6:14-29). It’s pretty rare that Luke gives us fewer details than Mark. Perhaps Luke decides to leave out the details of John’s death so that the readers last picture of him is when he is hearing the evidence that the Lord has come; like Simeon, he can then die in peace.
- (v.9) “he tried to see him”—is Herod intrigued, or does he just want to make sure that John is indeed dead? It’s hard to know.
- (v.11) “He welcomed them”—the getaway doesn’t last long. Somehow, the crowds find out where they are and follow them. These people are very good soil. They hear the apostles’ message about Jesus’ kingdom, and they immediately set out to find this kingdom. Just as He promised in the story about the soils, Jesus gives them more words: ‘Those who have will be given more’ (Luke 8:18).
- (v.12) “Send the crowd away”—meanwhile, the Twelve treat the crowd like unwelcome guests. They take a very conspicuous glance at their watches and say, ‘Well, it’s getting to be about dinner time … you’ll have to be moving along.’ Hospitality is a very important feature of the culture of Jesus’ day. In fact, hospitality remains a hallmark of Middle Eastern culture to this day.
- (v.16) “he gave them to the disciples to set before the people”—Jesus asks them to do the impossible, but He also supernaturally provides them with the ability to do it.
- (v.17) “all ate and were satisfied”—earlier, Jesus said, ‘Blessed are you who hunger now,/for you will be satisfied’ (Luke 6:21). These crowds are hungry, both spiritually and physically. Jesus sees that they are satisfied on both counts.
Taking it home:
- For you: The disciples are tired, and the needs of the crowd are overwhelming. They just want to send the crowd away so that they can rest, but God asks them to care for the crowd instead. Caring for others can be disruptive, inconvenient, and overwhelming; but Jesus promises that we can never out-give God. When we give to others, God gives even more to us. Pray that God would give you what you need to go beyond your limits in caring for others—whether what you need is more compassion, more faith, or just the actual things you need to care for them well. As you care for others, ask God to also care for you. Look for him to provide for you in surprising ways today.
- For your Six: Ask God to fill a practical need for your Six in an unexpected way some time in the next week.
- For our church/ILTJ: Jesus comes where He is welcome. On behalf of our church, tell Jesus that He is welcome here, and invite Him to come with more of His kingdom, more of His good news, and more of His healing. Then pick two other churches in our area or city and pray that they would also experience more of Jesus’ presence and kingdom.
- To Talk About: Jesus’ example of hospitality here is something we can all follow. We see Jesus welcome the people who are interested in spending time with him. He feeds this huge crowd dinner – even though they don’t technically have enough food. Jesus prayed for God to provide for their needs and He did even more – they had leftovers!
- To Do: Look around your kitchen – literally, walk into the kitchen and count the number of food items you have in the fridge, freezer, pantry, etc. Lots of time even when if feels like we have nothing to eat, we usually have something – and maybe even something we can share with others. As a family talk about the ways God has provided food, shelter and clothing and then see if there are things you can give away that could help bless the crowd around you. Maybe even intentionally bring a few of those food items in your pantry to Journey and place them in the Food Bank Bins.