Wednesday, October 12, 2016

12 October 2016
Luke 9:1-17
Good afternoon, welcome. Today Jesus sends 12 and feeds 5,000.

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. (Vs.1-6, NRSV)
Back in Ch.4, Satan told Jesus authority over the earth’s kingdoms had been given to him and he offered that authority to Jesus. Jesus is now saying all authority is His to give. When God visited earth as a man there were any number of things He could have done with that authority. Jesus chooses to cast out demons and cure diseases. He is demonstrating what the Old Testament writers called ‘God’s steadfast love’. He sends His disciples out in total dependence upon the Father. They are to preach the good news, stay when they are welcome and leave when they are not. They brought the good news everywhere, demonstrating the Kingdom presence with power and authority.

On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. (Vs.10-11)
When the apostles return Jesus takes them to a private place for a little down time, but they cannot hide from the crowds. And in fact, Jesus welcomes them. All of them. He meets them at their point of immediate need. This is how God ministered to His people. This is a good place to pause and reflect; God the Son is caring for His people, the people He created. I don’t see any conditions being imposed here; I don’t see anyone being turned away. I do see God’s steadfast love in action.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Vs.16-17)
Jesus works with what He has to feed everyone there. Everyone. The love offering was five loaves and two fish and He fed the multitudes with it. After He had healed all who needed healed. After they hunted Him down while He was on a private retreat with His apostles. Jesus actually went beyond the need; there was food left over. Later Paul would say ‘[God’s] power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20, NRSV, Italics mine). This is how God operates.

Here are a few takeaways from today’s gospel.
1. Power and authority belong to Jesus and they are transferable. I’m not saying to go out and heal and cast out demons. What I am saying is, sometimes we just need to remember who has power and who does not.
2. Jesus presents and demonstrates the Gospel-the Kingdom presence-and leaves it for His hearers to accept it or reject it. Jesus preaching, and His disciples, was backed up by demonstrations of power. Today it is backed up by demonstrations of unconditional love; (not so) random acts of kindness.
3. Jesus accepted all who came. Nobody was required to get their life in order first. It was never ‘sin no more, then come’. It was always ‘go, and sin no more’. Encountering Jesus always came first.
4. Jesus met people at their point of need. All people. We should do the same. Anything less amounts to deciding who is worthy and who is not, which is simply not for us to do.

So, please spend some time today thinking about God the Son healing and feeding all who came to Him. What does this say to you about the nature of our God? We are all the multitude, needing healed and fed. These things befuddled Herod, as they will anyone who does not know or understand Jesus. Perhaps it’s time we cleared things up a bit.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day. JRG

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