Sent to proclaim the kingdom of God

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were ill.
Luke 9:1-2 (NIV)

Read: Luke 9:1-17

Consider:  Today’s reading from Luke commences with the disciples being sent out to ‘… proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were ill’ (Luke 9;2).   Can you imagine the disciples’ reticence, particularly as they were told to take nothing for their journey and to accept the hospitality of those in the villages they visited (9;3-40?  Why did Jesus instruct them in this way?  It is clear that Jesus wanted them to come to understand that in whatever situation they found themselves, they could depend totally on God to provide for their needs.

Moving on through the passage Jesus and the disciples left the crowd and travelled to Bethsaida.  Did you notice the disciples’ response when Jesus told them to feed the crowd that had followed them?  We read in Luke 9:13 that the disciples’ response was:  ‘We have only five loaves and two fish – unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.’  Remember that these were the same disciples that Jesus had sent out (9:1-2) and who: ‘… went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere’  (9:6).  Why had they so quickly forgotten what they could do when they had received power and authority from Jesus (9:1)?  Was it that they had exhausted the power and authority that Jesus had given them?   This seems unlikely as God’s power is inexhaustible.  It is more likely that, when told to feed the crowd, they had been confronted with what they thought was a purely physical matter.  Having been able to heal people, they had quickly forgotten whose power and authority they had available to them.  We know from the passage that Jesus did not reprimand the disciples for their unbelief.  Instead he took the little they had, blessed and broke the loaves and fish and the disciples distributed this to the crowd.  This miracle reveals the shallowness of the disciples’ belief at this point in time.

Having left the crowd behind, Jesus may have been wanting to spend time alone with the disciples, perhaps teaching them and reflecting on their experience of going from village to village with the good news.  However, this was not to be as we are told that the crowd followed them.  Notice Jesus’ response to the intrusion of the crowd.  We read: He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing (9:11).  Jesus always had time for those who were willing to follow him and to learn from him.  The question for each of us is:  how would we react to a similar intrusion into our busy schedule and plans?  If we are honest we would probably admit that we would have welcomed the crowd reluctantly and may have perhaps looked for a way to avoid them.  If we really want to be more like Jesus, we need to be open to whatever intrusion comes our way, recognising that it may be an opportunity which God has presented to us to meet the spiritual and physical needs of others.

Pray: Father, forgive us when the busyness and pressure of life makes us less welcoming than we should be.  May we see each intrusion as an opportunity to serve you, in declaring the good news to those who are in need.  Amen

Every blessing

Author: profsloan

The purpose of this blog is to encourage others to read the Bible daily and to grow in Christ. Each day I will generally publish a devotional or a reading for the day, together with a prayer.

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