This is the story of the first mission trip. Today we might think of this as as part of an internship. First Jesus taught the disciples and let them hang out with him, seeing how he preached and healed. Then he sent them out to do the work.
Before sending out the Twelve, Jesus gathered them together and gave them authority over demons and diseases. He could give this authority because this authority had been given to him. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”.
He demonstrated this authority when he cast multiple demons out of the Garasene man. He demonstrated his authority over disease by raising Jairus’s daughter from death and healing many others.
The disciples witnessed these things. They knew his authority from experience. Thus, they could believe they could receive such authority from him. Jesus also gave them the power to heal and cast out demons. Power is the ability to do it. Authority is the right to do it.
Having given them authority & power, he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (2) Thus the Twelve would preach the arrival of the kingdom and demonstrate its truth with miraculous signs.
Jesus inaugurated the kingdom at his first coming and will consummate it at his second coming. Jesus and the Twelve all proclaimed the arrival of the kingdom and demonstrated it by taking territory away from the present lord of the earth, Satan. They took it away every time they cast out demons and heal people.
The kingdom was not physical territory, as many Jews expected. It was, instead, God’s rule over the hearts of his people. Jesus could free people from slavery to sin, from the curse of the fall, and give them life to live for the glory of God.
Jesus also put the Twelve to a test of faith. He did not allow them to take any provisions, no food, no money, no extra clothes. They would stay with the first person that welcomed them. Jesus was telling them “go as you are”.
In other words, Jesus wanted them to learn that God would provide for them as they went out to evangelize the world. It was a lesson they would need as they continued the work after the ascension of Jesus.
Jesus also told them to shake the dust off their feet if a town did not receive them. This is what Jews did after leaving a Gentile land. It was a symbol of not carrying their defilement with you. In this case it was also a subtle sign of the kingdom. The kingdom of God would be composed of those who believed in and followed Jesus, not those who were Jews by physical birth. Those who rejected the message of the apostles would not have a place in the kingdom of God.
I remember once in college, two Christian groups got together to go and witness to our professors. I went with a friend to a psychology professor’s office to talk to him. He basically threw us out. In the hallway, I ceremonially dusted off my heels to the amusement of my friend.
Luke also tells us the Twelve did what Jesus commanded, preaching in the villages and healing. They expanded the ministry of Jesus with authority from Jesus.
9:7-9 Herod Becomes Aware of Jesus
At this point, Jesus has become so well known that King Herod heard about him. He was called Herod the Tetrarch because the Romans gave him one fourth of the kingdom of his father, Herod the Great, at his death. HIs name was Herod Antipator.
No doubt, Herod heard about the healings and teachings. However, the people who spoke to Herod were confused about Jesus’ identity. They reported it was Elijah or another prophet raised from the dead. Some even said it was John the Baptist raised from the dead.
Herod was, understandably, confused. He wanted to see Jesus. It may well be that he was afraid Jesus was John the Baptist come back from the dead for revenge.
Luke does a good job here of foreshadowing trouble to come in the future by showing us Herod’s awareness of Jesus, his confusion about Jesus’ identity and his desire to understand.
Feeding Five Thousand 9:10-17
This event occurred when the Twelve returned from their mission trip. Jesus took them to Bethsaida, evidently with the intent of listening to what they had done and having time with them. However, the crowds learned where they were and followed them. (10)
Jesus did not tell them to go away because he and the Twelve had things to do. Instead, he welcomed them. (11) He taught them about the kingdom of God. He healed the sick. He did this all day long.
At the end of the day, The Twelve told Jesus to send the crowd away for food and lodging. (12) The reason for this is not given. It may be that the Twelve wanted to call it a day, so they wanted Jesus to wrap it up. In the alternative, they may have been concerned for people who had been there all day and would have to travel home in the dark with no food and no place along the way to stay. Jesus did not go along with their idea. Instead, he commanded the apostles to give the crowd something to eat. They canvassed the crowed for food and came up with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Evidently, this was a kid’s sack lunch. They also brought up the idea of getting take out, going and buying food. They surely did not have enough money for that, since there were about five thousand men there, along with a number of women and children.
The apostles were trying to obey Jesus. But they only went about it in practical, physical ways. They tried to find food in the crowd. They suggested an alternative, although an untenable one. They did not look beyond the practical. They also did not think about the lesson they had just learned on their mission trip: that God will provide for those who preach and minister in his name.
Jesus, on the other hand, took what the disciples had and multiplied it into enough to feed the crowd. He also made enough leftovers to have 12 baskets, no doubt one for each of the Twelve who were still limited in their thinking.
God had miraculously provided food to his people before this. He fed the Israelites in the desert with manna and quail. (Exodus 16-18)
The Lord also fed 100 prophets who followed Elisha with 20 loaves of barley and some grain from a man’s sack. (2 Kings 4:42) These events, along with Jesus feeding the five thousand, are things only God could do.
Or does it also show that the disciples could do with the authority and power of Jesus given to them?
These events also show us Jesus’ compassion for people. He was not willing to send them away angry. He was not willing to make them fend for themselves.
It also shows us something of the nature and character of the Father. Jesus revealed the Father to us. John 1:18 says “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known”. As Jesus had compassion on the crowds and met their physical needs, so the Father cares for us, has compassion for us and provides for our physical needs. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast or anxieties on God because he cares for us.