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.
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.
For many, the Christian faith has become increasingly implausible. The question is not so much whether one believes, but rather “How can one possibly believe such things as this to be true. This morning we’re having an introductory apologetics seminar at Calvary Chapel Bible College of Indianapolis. Here are the power points that I’m using and some other handouts that are being given to those who attend.
Today we’ll see the first miracle performed by Peter – the healing of a beggar who never walked and was now over 40 years old. When a crowd gathers as a result Peter will attribute the miracle not to himself – but to faith in the risen Jesus Christ. Peter will explain various ways in which Jesus fulfills Jewish messianic prophecy and then call the crowd to repentance.