Luke 9:1-4 (NIV) 1 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 preach 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 tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.
On verses 1-4: Here Jesus sends out his twelve disciples with his power and authority to go from town to town preaching the kingdom of God, driving out all demons and curing diseases (v1-2). But notice also that Jesus told them to take nothing else for the journey (“no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic” – v3). What was Jesus doing? Jesus was teaching his disciples to have faith in God’s power to use them and to provide for their needs, rather than relying on their own smarts, strength and resources.
What can we learn from this? Being on mission with Jesus is about relying on His power, authority and provision in our lives.
Luke 9:5-6 (NIV) 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, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
On verses 5-6: Notice what Jesus tells the disciples to do regarding towns that reject them: he tells his disciples to shake the dust off their feet when they leave as a testimony against them. What can we learn from this? When you try to share Jesus with others, you will inevitably face rejection from time to time. Don’t be too hung up on the rejection or the people who reject you. Shake the dust off and move on. God Himself will hold those people accountable.
Luke 9:7-9 (NIV) 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.
On verses 7-9: Jesus and his disciples were doing things and preaching things that reminded people of John the Baptist and even earlier Old Testament prophets like Elijah. It caused even King Herod, the one who beheaded John the Baptist, to wonder what was going on.
Luke 9:10-11 (NIV) 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.
On verses 10-11: Jesus had planned to take his disciples to Bethsaida to get some rest after their short missionary trip, but crowds end up following Jesus. I admire Jesus’ response to the crowds who interrupted Jesus’ plans: “he welcomed them” (v11), taught them more and healed those in need. Instead of complaining and getting frustrated that his plans were interrupted, Jesus took it as an opportunity to be a blessing to others.
What can we learn from this? When God interrupts your plans, instead of complaining and getting frustrated, look for the opportunities embedded within the interruption to be a blessing.
Luke 9:12-17 (NIV) 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 everybody 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.
On verses 12-17: Here we see both the compassion of Jesus and the power of Jesus. Even after teaching this crowd of over 5,000 men, women and children and healing their sick, Jesus still had a heart to feed the people. He uses the disciples in the process, taking what little food they had in their possession and miraculously multiplying it to feed thousands, and even having plenty left over.
What can we learn from this?
Don’t look down on what you have. Instead give it to God to use and watch Him do with it what you yourself could not do. God can take the little that we think we have and multiply it to help others. We just need to be willing to offer him what we have.
The greatest acts of service the world has ever seen all began as a dream in the heart of someone who had love and compassion for others. Without the dream, there’s no great service or miracle. So don’t discount the dreams God places in your heart to serve others.
When I consider that Jesus instructs the disciples to organize the people into groups of 50, and also I consider that they had 12 baskets full of leftovers, these facts signal to me that Jesus was not only a powerful preacher but also a great organizer. It takes not just a great heart to serve people well, but also great organization and administration.
Jesus, thank You that when I offer to You what I have, no matter how little it may seem to me, You can use it to feed a multitude. So may I not rely merely on my own smarts and strength, but may I rely on Your strength and Your promise to provide all I need as I live for You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!