Up until now, Luke has shown us the ministry of Jesus in and around Galilee. This week will arrive at a turning point. Christ will allow his identity to sink in with his disciples and then turn toward Jerusalem.
Dear heavenly Father,
We believe that Jesus is the Christ, your Son in whom you are well pleased, the Holy One of God. We can see that he exercises authority over nature and the spirit world. We understand that he exercises divine authority because he is God – such as declaring us forgiven of our sins. He has the right to demand our complete loyalty and trust for the same reason. He is God.
We accept that following Jesus means we need to be open to being sent out in various ways to serve him. It means we will have to trust him when that service goes beyond our abilities.
Please help us to see him as fully God as well as one of us, and to see ourselves as no better than others. Please make us willing to give him our complete loyalty and devotion regardless of the sacrifice that requires.
10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
The Gospels are wonderfully informative when it comes to understanding what it is really like to follow Jesus. Here they were before a vast crowd of thousands and it was getting late. The disciples were concerned. “Hey boss, maybe it’s time we send them away. We don’t want it to get dark before they can make it to a nearby village. What do you think?” After a day full of Jesus teaching and healing, they understandably thought their day was done. The big event was only just beginning.
“You give them something to eat,” is Christ’s response. “Uh, we don’t really have that much food here, unless we go off and buy it. But then again, we don’t have that much money either.”
Following Jesus means that he is going to give us work to do that is beyond our ability. He does this mainly so that we can learn to trust in him, and then see him remarkably provide.
Jesus had the disciples gather the people into groups of around fifty. He then began to multiply the food. I find it interesting that he worked with what they had. There is a lesson in there someplace. He fed the people with bread and fish, not with, say, vegetables and sacrificial lambs. Somehow he used what the disciples could find and remarkably, miraculously provided for the multitude. No doubt he does that kind of thing still, through people like us in our present circumstances.
Our Father in heaven,
In sending your Son, you gave us a person who we can watch, listen to, learn from and follow. Help us to be receptive to all that Christ wants to teach us. In other words, give us “ears to hear.” Help us to trust that you have everything under control, even when some of the circumstances in our lives seem out of control from our perspective.
We know that Jesus has all power over raging storms, physical illness, armies of demons and even death. Let us always be ready to seek Christ’s help and to follow him all the days of our lives. This is obviously what you, as our Father, want for us.
22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
That must have been some storm, to strike that kind of fear into a group of disciples, several of whom previously made their living by fishing on that same lake. After years of experience you might think they had seen it all. Maybe they hadn’t.
We can find ourselves in situations where experience is little help. In fact, maybe experience only tells us that all is surely lost. The disciples found themselves exactly there on this day. We may feel like that is where we are today.
And it may seem like Jesus is asleep. Where is God when you need him? Where is that Savior when our resources and abilities come to an end?
Jesus responded to their cries. He calmed the storm. His words, however, were not exactly reassuring. He didn’t say, “There, there, it’ll all be all right.” It was more along the lines of a rebuke, asking, “Where is your faith?”
Their voyage started with Jesus saying, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” He said it – and Jesus knows what he is talking about.
It is okay and even required that we pray. Sometimes God just doesn’t act without our prayers. But we need not panic. We can pray with faith. We can pray confidently that God will meet our need. We can wake Jesus up, but perhaps not with the same level or kind of fear the disciples showed on that night in the boat during the storm.