John T. Willis

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Jesus Feeds the 5000; Peter's Confession--Luke 9:10-21

After the account of Jesus' mission of the Twelve and Herod Antipas' perplexity related in Luke 9:1-9, Luke now turns to record Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand and Peter's Confession, related in Luke 9:10-21. This section naturally falls into two sections.

I. Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand. Luke 9:10-17.
a. When "the Twelve" (Luke 9:1), the apostles (Luke 9:10), returned from their mission, they told Jesus all they had done. Jesus then withdrew privately to get away from the crowds (see Luke 10:23; Acts 23:19) to a city called Bethsaida [this Aramaic term means "house of hunting"], locate north of Lake Gennesaret and East of the Jordan River not far from where it empties into Lake Gennesaret. The tetrarch Herod Philip raised it from a village and renamed it Julias, in honor of the daughter of Augustus, from which the apostles Philip, Peter, and Andrew came. When the crowds found out where Jesus was, they followed him, and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God and healed the sick. 9:10-11.
b. "The twelve" came to Jesus late in the day when people usually eat their evening meal to tell Jesus to send the crowd away so they could go into the surrounding villages and countryside to spend the night and get provisions, becaause now they are here in a deserted or uninhabited place. 9:12.
c. Jesus responded: Give the crowd something to eat, indirectly challenging the twelve to perform the miracle of providing food for the large crowd. The twelve replied that they have only five loaves of bread and two fish. Should they go into the surrounding villages to buy food for all these people? This account is strikingly similar to 2 Kings 4:42-44 when Elisha told a man of Baal-shalishah to feed 100 men. Luke tells his hearers that there were about 5000 men, and Jesus told the twelve to make them sit down in groups of about 50. They did this. 9:13-15.
d. Then Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fish, looked up to his heavenly Father in heaven [a common expression, see Genesis 15:5; Deuteronomy 4:19; Job 22:26) and blessed and broke the loaves and fish. Obviously, Jesus turned to his heavenly Father to perform this miracle to glorify Yahweh, the one true and living God. Jesus gave these to the twelve to set this food before the crowd. 9:16.
e. All the people in the crowd ate and were filled. The twelve gathered up twelve baskets of broken pieces to demonstrate Yahweh's powerful gift of food, which is always overabundant. This account appears in all four Gospels: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15. This miracle is symbolic which fulfills promises about God feeding his people (Isaiah 25:6; 65:13-14; Psalms 78:19; 81:16), and prefigures the institution of the Eucharist, Lord's Supper, Luke 22:19. 9:17.

II. Peter's Confession. Luke 9:18-21.
a. Luke tells his hearers that on one unknown occasion, Jesus was praying alone with only his "disciples" near him. That Jesus was praying emphasizes that he will declare to his disciples who he is. 9:18a-b.
b. Then Jesus asked his disciples, Who do the crowds say I am? Jesus' disciples gave three answers from the crowds: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the ancient prophets who has arisen. Apparently, the crowds assumed that Jesus was a prophet. 9:18b-19.
c. Jesus then turned to his disciples, saying, Who do YOU say that I am? Peter responded: "The Messiah of God." Peter was undoubtedly thinking of Jesus as the expected anointed individual sent by God in the Davidic dynasty as the new political leader of God's people. 9:20.
d. Jesus STERNLY ordered and commanded the Twelve not to tell anyone because of the political implications of the term "Messiah." 9:21.

Both of these stories in Luke are a response to Herod Antipas' perplexity in Luke
9:9. The similar accounts in Matthew, Mark, and John report in different contexts to communicate different truths.

Share YOUR anticipations, anxieties, fears, hopes, and problems with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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