Scripture text for Monday, March 29th, 2010: Luke 9:1-9:36
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Today we look at the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000. He had sent the disciples away to proclaim the kingdom of God, and perform healing. They were instructed to take nothing with them, making them totally dependent on God. Upon their return they report all they had seen and done, and scripture tells us, that Jesus withdrew to a city called Bethsaida, but the multitudes followed. Jesus did not send the people away, but welcomed them, told them about the kingdom of God, and healed those in need of healing. As the day drew to an end the disciples wondered how they would feed the crowd, all they could find were five loaves, and two fishes. Jesus takes the five loaves and two fishes and looks to the heavens, He blessed them, and broke them, and handed them out to the disciples to feed the multitude. Now scripture tells us that the men ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces filled twelve baskets. This miracle is also accounted in the gospels of Matthew 14:13, John 6:1 and a similar account in Mark 8:1 (this is a different story, but a similar miracle, this crowd included many gentiles, unlike the crowd in Luke). In Mark Jesus feeds 4,000 with seven loaves and a few small fish, and had seven baskets full of what was left. As we read the story in Luke we find it an amazing miracle of how God cares for his peoples every need, not just their (our) spiritual needs but those more basic needs. For the Jewish people we wonder if they saw even more to this act of compassion. Did it remind them of the manna that God provided to feed the children of Israel, or Elisha who fed 100 men with 20 loaves of bread in 2 Kings, which said “they will eat and have some left over.” What is the significance of the leftover’s here and in Luke and Mark?
Later Jesus is praying alone and the disciples come to Him and Jesus asks them “who do the multitudes say that I am?” The disciples respond that “some say John the Baptist and others say Elijah, or one of the prophets of old has risen again.” Then Jesus asked the most important question, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered “The Christ of God.”
Jesus warns them not to tell this to anyone. This is curious, why did He warn them not to say anything? Is it just not the right timing? Maybe! But I think He wanted them to wait because they did not yet have the complete picture or grasp the full scope of things, not until they experienced the resurrection do they truly understand the full might and power of the “Christ of God”. Back in Mark 8:1-26 Jesus reminds the disciples of when He fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, and the 4,000 with seven loaves of bread, and yet they were worried about what they would eat that day, because they only had one loaf of bread. He asked them “Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?” “Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” Are we like that, we have seen God work in our lives and yet do not trust Him for our future? I encourage you to keep a prayer journal of your requests, struggles and answered prayer, so when you are feeling alone, broken, or that God just isn’t there for you, you can look back and see your personal history with the “living God” and your faith will be lifted up. Later in the passage of Mark when Jesus restores the sight of the blind man he does so gradually, I think this is to show the disciples and us that faith is a growing process. He could have easily restored the man’s sight all at once.
Some of this story the “feeding of the 5,000” is still unclear to me, but the biggest question here for the disciples and for us is; “who do you say that I am”? Who do you say He is?
Prayer for the day: Father, I pray that each of us will come to know You in Your fullness, and allow You to do Your work in our lives. You are the “Bread of Life”, come fill us to overflowing! Amen.
Devotion prepared by Nancy Umbeck