Summary: We have to do both: tell (proclaim) and show (demonstrate) so that people encounter the living God and are free to choose how to respond
Anybody Hungry? What – all 5000 of you?? Breaking Boundaries
Luke 9:10-17, March 29, 2009 Lent #5
Last Sunday we began to study chapter 9 of Luke. Who remembers what that story/sermon was about? Please… I hope someone does!! I can summarize it thusly: Jesus calls the disciples together and says to them: “Go. Tell AND Show.” (or Show and Tell if you prefer that order). We have to do both: tell (proclaim) and show (demonstrate) so that people encounter the living God and are free to choose how to respond. The disciples obey, Luke tells us that they do in fact preach and heal, and that leads us into Luke 9:10-17.
10 When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.
12 Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”
13 But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” 14 For there were about 5,000 men there.
Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 So the people all sat down. 16 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. 17 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!
So last week we saw Jesus sending his disciples out to minister, by telling the message and showing the power, and they did so because Jesus sent them with “power and authority”, and they went and they did. Put simply, it worked! They healed diseases and proclaimed the message. Verse 10 begins with the report: “they told Jesus everything they had done.” A simple summary statement; can you imagine the stories and the excitement of the story-tellers? Try to imagine being a “fly on the wall” as Andrew and his partner (whoever it was) return to Jesus and begin to tell Him all the places they went, the stories of the people they met who were sick, how it felt to say a word or a prayer and see those people healed, how it felt to tell the stories of Jesus and how Jesus had sent them to tell them about this new incredible Kingdom of God. Try to imagine that happening 6 times over, as each of the pairs return with stories of the incredible power of God and the way that people responded… I love hearing even one story like that, imagine all 12 disciples returning eager to talk about all that had happened, and eager to hear about the experiences of the others.
It is little wonder then that Jesus’ next step is to take them off on a little retreat. “Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida”. This, I’m sure from my own years in ministry, is designed for three things: first, just a much needed break. A need to get away and just plain recuperate from a time of really intensive ministry. They were undoubtedly excited, but they would also have been somewhat drained from these experiences of ministry. Second, it would have been a time to de-brief – to have the time and space to tell all the stories, reflect on them, enjoy them, and learn from them. And third, it would have been an excellent opportunity for Jesus to build on what they have experienced and teach them even more.
The Interruption and Response:
But this great plan of Jesus’ gets interrupted. “the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him.” Oh, those crowds… following, wanting more, expecting Jesus and His disciples to meet more needs, teach more things, be more available. There is an opportunity for disappointment and frustration on the part of Jesus and His disciples – their “alone time” has been compromised. But there is something about genuine people with real needs that often tempers that disappointment and frustration, and Jesus reflects that by engaging these crowds rather than sending them away. “He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.” There are 3 things there: first the “welcome”. An important word. Notice the other two things? – exactly the same things He told the disciples to do on that last short-term mission trip, telling and showing.