Jesus begins a second preaching tour of Galilee (Luke 8:1-3) with the Parable of the Sower, teaching that listening faith (Luke 8:8) bears fruit (Luke 8:4-15), brings light (Luke 8:16-18), and practices God’s Word (Luke 8:19-21). In preparation for Peter’s confession of Jesus at Luke 9:20, one of the key statements in his Gospel, Luke shows us that Jesus has authority over the natural world (Luke 8:22-25), over the spirit world (Luke 8:26-39), and over disease and death (Luke 8:40-56). Here we see Jesus’ tenderness and compassion toward the marginalized and his preservation of their dignity.
We are now nearing the end of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, and a new phase in Jesus’ ministry begins in Luke 9. With many more places needing his message, Jesus commissions His twelve disciples, empowers them to preach and to heal, and sends them out (Luke 9:1-6). As they travel, they hear a great deal of speculation about who Jesus is (Luke 9:7-9). Jesus feeds thousands with just a few loaves of bread and fishes (Luke 9:11-17).
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 9:1-17 to teach believers that trusting Jesus involves sending us out and gathering many in.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about trusting Jesus.
Pray and Read: Luke 9:1-17
1. Trusting Jesus results in sending us out (Luke 9:1-9)
2. Trusting Jesus results in gathering many in (Luke 9:10-17)
Exposition: Note well,
1. TRUSTING JESUS RESULTS IN SENDING US OUT (Luke 9:1-9)
a. Luke 9:1 – (|| Matt 10:1-15; Mark 6:7-11). Up to this point, Jesus’ disciples have been observers, accompanying Jesus as he preaches and heals. Now Jesus gives his disciples miracle-working power (dunamis) and authority (exousia) to do what He has been doing – casting out demons, healing the sick, and proclaiming the message of the kingdom of God. Their mission is a further demonstration that God’s Kingdom was breaking forth into the world and a foreshadowing of the apostolic mission in Acts where the Apostles continue Jesus’ work through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The term apostolos simply means “one sent out” with a delegated task. The Twelve represent the twelve tribes of Israel (like the 12 spies of Num 13:2; Luke 22:28-30), the righteous remnant of Israel and the foundation of the church. Jesus will send out 72 more at the beginning of chapter 10, signifying the evangelization of the Gentile nations.
b. Luke 9:3 – Take nothing. No staff for walking and self-defense in the event of attack, no bag to receive alms or carrying one’s possessions, no extra tunic, a long shirt worn next to the skin. Why did Jesus do this? (1) One suggestion is that since the Jewish Mishnah prohibited a man from coming to the Temple Mount with staff, sandal, wallet, or dust on one’s feet. Jesus may be saying that this is a sacred task and they must leave behind anything that might defile them. This explanation in my opinion is weak. (2) Others have suggested the command was meant to distinguish these Messianic missionaries from the wandering Greek philosophers who carried a purse to receive donations. That explanation, though, fits better with later missionary work. Since these instructions are altered later under different circumstances (Luke 22:35-38) it suggests Luke was not setting down missionary guidelines. (3) The simplest explanation may be the best. Jesus wants his men to travel light and live in complete dependence on God, totally committed to their mission, not tied down with worldly concerns. The principle is universal, but the details are for this mission of the Twelve.
d. APPLICATION: The Lord calls us to total commitment and complete dependence on God. Are you living simply, or are you tied up with worldly concerns and demands? Is it time to sell some things, to let go of some commitments, to make room for more time with Jesus or more time to do what God has called you to do?
e. Luke 9:5 – Shake the dust off your feet: Jewish travelers returning home typically shook the ‘unclean’ dust of their journey through pagan lands off their feet. It was a statement that the place was heathen and had no status among God’s people. By rejecting Jesus’ disciples, a town placed itself outside the community of faith. This is, therefore, a formal act of separation, leaving the town to the judgment it deserves for rejecting the gospel (see Luke 10:13-15; Acts 13:5; 18:6).
f. Luke 9:7-9 – Who is this? Herod the tetrarch here is Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great (Luke 3:1, 19-20). The reference to Elijah may be an allusion to 2 Kings 2:1-12 (cf. Mal 4:5) where the return of Elijah is expected in the person of Jesus “before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.” This would explain why John is mentioned here and connected to the Messianic figure Jesus. At the end of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee the people had all the evidence they needed to answer this central question. The failure of the crowds to recognize Jesus as the Messiah was in fact rejection (John 1:10).
g. APPLICATION: Who is Jesus to you? Do you have the information you need to make a decision about Christ? Are you submitting to him or are you rejecting his leadership?
2. TRUSTING JESUS RESULTS IN GATHERING MANY IN (Luke 9:10-17)
a. Luke 9:10 – Bethsaida: on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, east of the Jordan River, the hometown of Peter and Andrew (John 1:44) and Philip (Luke 12:21). The largest town in the area would have had no more than 3000 residents, so even feeding the crowd in the villages would have been difficult
b. Luke 9:13-14 – Jesus reply is designed to show them they have nothing to offer. Their only recourse is to trust Jesus. It would have taken about 7 months hard labor of an average man’s wages to feed this group. Jesus challenges Philip and Andrew, who had grown up in Bethsaida, and Andrew found the little boy who offered his five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:1-13) Organized in ranks of fifty, the process facilitated the distribution of food alone, even if some speculated that Jesus might be organizing a messianic army.
c. APPLICATION: It is not enough for us to see the needs of others. If we are aware of them, then we are responsible.
d. Luke 9:16 – He gave thanks: Perhaps he prayed the familiar Jewish prayer from the Mishnah: Barukh attah Adonai Eloheynu, Melekh-ha ‘olam, haMotzi lechem min ha’aretz: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” Lifting one’s eyes to heaven was a common posture of prayer (1 Kings 8:22, 54; Mark 6:41; 7:34; John 11:41; 17:1). With Jesus taking the loaves, giving thanks, and breaking them, there are clear verbal parallels with the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19), which has strong links to the OT promise of the Messianic Banquet.
e. Luke 9:17 – Twelve basketfuls left: One for each disciple, or perhaps for each tribe, and the use of twelve is now becoming noticeable. And these baskets are not small. They are waist high. Christ provides for all God’s people.
f. APPLICATION: One of the best lessons of the Feeding of the Five Thousand is God’s provision. He not only provides, but leaves us with enough leftovers to remind us that He is a provider. Are you trusting Jesus for your provision?
g. Old Testament background is important to this passage: (1) the manna and quail (loaves and fish) in the wilderness (Exod. 16; Num 11; John 6:14-40); (2) Elisha’s feeding of a hundred men with barley loaves and grain (2 Kings 4:42-44); and most importantly because it is an important theme for Luke, especially in the upcoming travel narrative, (3) the Messianic banquet, the End Time promise where God will feed and shepherd his people (Isaiah 25:6-8; 65:13-14).
h. The feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle appearing in all four Gospels (Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-43; John 6:1-13). In all four this miracle is the climax of Jesus’ ministry, and from that point forward there is a long march toward the Cross. Like the calming of the sea (Luke 8:22-25), Luke uses this nature miracle to provide a clue to the answer to Herod’s question (Luke 9:9). That answer will come at Luke 9:20. The miracle also shows Jesus’ ability to shepherd and care for his people, sustaining them on His provision. The leftover food confirms the abundance of God’s blessings and is a parallel to 2 Kings 4:43, where the Lord promises “they will eat and have some left over.”