Lukeby Mike Raiter
Jesus had called the twelve disciples earlier (Luke 6:12–16); now, He sends them out on a mission, giving them His power and authority to preach the kingdom and heal the sick (vv. 1–2).
It is a short-term mission into the local villages. They must travel light, with no encumbrances. Jesus warns them of the mixed response they will be sure to meet. Some will be welcomed, and this welcome will reflect the people’s welcome of Jesus and His kingdom. If the disciples are rejected, they are to wipe the dust off their feet, dramatically announcing that the unwelcoming people are unclean and rejected by God. As Jews who knew the Scriptures announcing the signs of the coming Messiah, they had no more excuse for not being ready and welcoming those who come in His name.
Our situation is different: today’s missionaries are engaged in a long-term ministry and may have to take many possessions with them. They normally speak to people who know nothing of God or the Bible. However, our core work is the same: proclaim the kingdom of God and that Jesus is the king (v. 2).
The only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four Gospels is the feeding of the 5,000 men—or, if you add women and children, perhaps a crowd in excess of 10,000 (vv. 10–17). As they are hungry, Jesus miraculously feeds them. All the disciples have at their disposal are five loaves of bread and two fish (v. 13). Contrast the small amount of food with the size of the crowd. Yet, Luke tells us that when they had all finished eating, they were satisfied (v. 17). Indeed, there were enough leftovers to fill twelve baskets. In the Bible, the number twelve is very significant (e.g., twelve tribes, twelve apostles). It can symbolically mean “all” or the “whole”. Do you see Luke’s point? The leftovers were proof of the abundance—there was still enough to feed more people.
Jesus does what only God can do: He speaks, and things come into existence. Not only does Jesus meet our needs, but He does so lavishly. With this confidence, we can invite our friends to come and know Jesus. Just as He deeply satisfied people back then physically, so today He will abundantly satisfy people spiritually.
Why do you think Jesus told the disciples to do the seemingly impossible and feed such a large crowd (v. 13)? What can we learn from the response of the disciples?
The Christian life is an abundant one. Think about the ways that God deals with us generously.