Summary: Jesus feeds a whole bunch of people with a snackable.
14. Who is Jesus?
November 21st, 2010
We are in Luke 9:10 this morning. This is a text most of you are probably familiar with. This is the only event prior to the last week of Jesus life that is recorded in all four gospel accounts. So there is something very important about this text. The disciples have just returned from riding their bikes with training wheels and things went really well. They are coming back from the mission Jesus had sent them out on as He is preparing them to be leaders in His kingdom. They have seen Jesus heal people, cast out demons, and preach about the kingdom of God but now they have got to experience it for themselves. They were given a supernatural authority and so when they come back they are excited because they got to watch as God worked miracles through them. Word is spreading, people are getting excited, and Jesus popularity is at an all time high.
You can imagine how happy Jesus is to see the excitement on His disciple’s faces as they tell the stories of things they did. Imagine as a parent you kid comes home bragging about all the stuff they learned at school you know part of you just beams with pride. Jesus has been waiting years for this moment: when His follower would take hold of His mission and start sharing His love with the world. At the same time Jesus also is feeling the loss of a close friend and family member as He has only recently been informed that John the Baptist was beheaded.
Once again Jesus and the disciples need a break. They have had a lot going on recently and they need to just get away so that they can rest and recover but also so they can debrief and get their bearings again. Sometimes in life you get hit with stuff and the best thing to do is to stop and get focused. So they need to find a quiet place outside of Herod’s jurisdiction and away from the crowds. They hop in a boat and sail across the Sea of Galilee to the small town of Bethsaida.
Lk 9:10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, Lk 9:11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
These crowds are becoming stalkers. This is not the first time Jesus and His disciples have used a boat to try and escape them but the crowds are determined to thwart their plan this time. When Jesus and the disciples sail off the crowds watch which direction Jesus goes and then they ran around the lake going from town to town waiting for Jesus to arrive. They did not walk or slowly meander their way over, they ran so fast they actually got to the other side before Jesus did.
The Jordan river is a large river that is 156 miles long which runs along the eastern border of Israel and runs through the Sea of Galilee in the North connecting it to the Dead Sea in the south. About two miles north of where the Jordan enters the Sea of Galilee there is a good spot to cross the river. About a mile north of that is a wide grassy plain that runs into a nice hill which Jesus could have climbed to accommodate the crowds. It is probably around A.D 29, putting is very close to the Passover. This would explain the enormous crowds as many Jews would migrate to Jerusalem during this time for one of their three great feasts. This would put us at the end of Jesus second year of ministry. His crucifixion is probably just over a year away.
The amassed crowds are enormous. They are counted at five thousand men. During this point in history women and children were not counted so the total crowd is probably somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand people. So we have the world’s first mega-church meeting and it’s a potluck. Except the only person who remembered to bring anything is a small child.
Jesus gets off the boat and the crowd is there waiting for Him. Now this might be a little frustrating. Jesus and His disciples are tired. They have been so busy they have not even had time to eat. So they head out to get some time to rest and relax but the crowds chase them down and rob them of their day off. Imagine you are training someone at work and you have a long and exhausting day. You tell your trainee goodbye and that you will see them tomorrow. You get home. Your are tired, you are hungry, and you are just excited to sit down and have a nice meal with your family. But before you can eat you hear a knock on the door. The person you are training is at you door with a bunch of work he brought with him. Some of us might find that to be a bit annoying.