So Luke 9 is just full of all sorts of interesting connections between each different little part, and if you don’t read it all in one sitting you might just miss it. And even now as I sit here and look over it, I might not be able to get them all down in one sitting. This might be a two or three part set.
Executive decision: this will be a multi-post.
So we begin with verse 1 as a great beginning must always begin with verse 1. I’m sure Socrates, or Plato, or Abraham Lincoln, or Moses, or someone wise said that once.
9:1 After Jesus called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 9:2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 9:3 He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, and do not take an extra tunic. 9:4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave the area. 9:5 Wherever they do not receive you, as you leave that town, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 9:6 Then they departed and went throughout the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
So the twelve are sent out and the interesting thing that Jesus tells them to do is to take “no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, and do not take an extra tunic.” Normally bread isn’t in bold, but I think you might catch what I’m about to talk about. So the disciples go out and heal people with the power and authority that Jesus gives them. That too will come up again. And Jesus sends them out with nothing, that those who welcome them will provide them with food and these things. So how does it go? Let’s see what Luke 9 says a few verses ahead.
9:10When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida.
So they come back at least successful enough to not have been killed and they were probably provided for too since none of them seem to come back starving or beat up. So they were welcomed and given food. Then a bunch of people, maybe ones who had heard the twelve’s preaching, come to where Jesus and the disciples are.
9:11 But when the crowds found out, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing. 9:12 Now the day began to draw to a close, so the twelve came and said to Jesus, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and food, because we are in an isolated place.” 9:13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish – unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 9:14 (Now about five thousand men were there.) Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 9:15 So they did as Jesus directed, and the people all sat down.
9:16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke them. He gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 9:17 They all ate and were satisfied, and what was left over was picked up – twelve baskets of broken pieces.
So Jesus welcomes them and teaches them about the Kingdom and heals those among them. What is so interesting is that the disciples tell Jesus, who welcomed all these people, to send them away so that everyone can go eat. This is ironic in that Jesus had just sent them out and told them to be provided by those who welcomed them; they weren’t allowed to take bread with them. And Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.”
I see it as sort of this, “I sent you out and you mooched off of them, now let them mooch off of you,” kind of thing. The twelve are sent out and provided by those in the town who welcome them, and then Jesus welcomes all of these people and the disciples tell him to send them away to get food? I think Jesus is maybe using a bit of irony in there. The disciples, given all authority and power by Jesus, doubt they can do anything and so Jesus shows them what can be done and feeds 5000 people with some bread and fish. Ironic.
But we’re not done!
A few more verses ahead we have Luke 9:37-43:
9:37 Now on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 9:38 Then a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son – he is my only child! 9:39 A spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions and causes him to foam at the mouth. It hardly ever leaves him alone, torturing him severely. 9:40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 9:41 Jesus answered, “You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you and endure you? Bring your son here.” 9:42 As the boy was approaching, the demon threw him to the ground and shook him with convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 9:43 Then they were all astonished at the mighty power of God.
The interesting thing to point out is that Jesus says in this section, “You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you and endure you?” (I like the NIV version better because its says, “O unbelieving” and I’m a huge fan of O.) When I was reading this part I suddenly thought, “who is Jesus talking to?” Because it obviously can’t be the man who brought Jesus to him because he brought his son to Jesus believing Jesus could heal the boy. And was Jesus talking to the people around him who didn’t believe he was the Messiah? I believe he was actually talking to the generation surrounding him, his very own twelve disciples. Why? Look what is says just before Jesus says that: “9:40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” These disciples who were sent out with power and authority by Jesus were not able to drive out the demon. And these same disciples just earlier, with the power and authority of Jesus, did not think they could feed 5000 people with just some bread and fish. With these examples just building up on each other it is no surprise that Jesus exclaimed in frustration (paraphrased), “I gave you power and authority in my name and yet you didn’t believe! How much longer will I put up with you!”
While this might sound ironic, I do not want to paint the disciples in a bad picture; I’m sure I would have disbelieved just as well. But you see the irony that Luke has just set up, and you get to see who Jesus is talking to when you read this whole chapter in one sitting. And these themes just keep reccurring in this chapter and probably the whole book.
Part 2: Listen (coming soon)