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

Sunday, May 06, 2012

I Know the Plans I have for YOU--4

God's eternal vision is that HE LEAD all people through life to serve him. The Bible uses three important verbs to emphasize Yahweh's LEADERSHIP. A key passages which emphasize this truth is Deuteronomy 8:2-3:
"Remember the long way that the Lord your God has LED you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to HUMBLE you, TESTING you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He HUMBLED you by letting you hunger, then by FEEDING you with manna, with which neither your nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."

1. God LEADS.
a. God role or function consistently is to LEAD all human beings through life. This theme is frequent and constant throughout scripture. God led his people out of Egypt--Psalm 78:49-52; through the wilderness for forty years--Deuteronomy 8:2, 15; Amos 2:10; Jeremiah 2:6; Psalm 136:16; and into the promised land of Canaan--Psalm 78:54-55.
b. Jesus emphasized through his ministry that he LED his disciples, and their role was that of being DISCIPLES, LEARNERS, FOLLOWERS, not LEADERS. Any time they asserted their LEADERSHIP, Jesus quickly and pointedly rebuked them to make them his SERVANTS, not LEADERS. Important texts on this point are Mark 10:35-45; Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 14:7-14.

a. The relationship between God and human beings is a lifelong journey, not a one time experience.
b. God repeatedly TESTS, REFINES, TRIES the true mettle of the hearts and lives of every person. This is VERY PAINFUL, but VERY IMPORTANT and NECESSARY. God humbled or tested the Israelites in the wilderness "to know what is in your heart."
c. Hebrews 12:4-11 is a great text to emphasize this truth.
"In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children--
'My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.'
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and now his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order tyhat we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

a. God FED the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years by manna. In Egypt, the Israelites ate BREAD, that is, the food God provided in the land of Egypt. But in the wilderness, that BREAD or FOOD was not available, so God MIRACULOUSLY gave the Israelites MANNA. The word "manna" means "What is it?" because no human being knew or knows what this material was or is. (Exodus 16:15).
b. After spending forty years in the wilderness, God brought the Israelites into the land of Canaan, and the manna ceased. NOW, God sustained his people by "the produce of the land," as Joshua 5:12 clearly states.
c. We human beings assume that FOOD is the result of NATURAL LAW, which God established after he created the universe. The Enlightenment has taught this to us over a long period of time. But this is NOT TRUE BIBLICALLY OR IN DAILY LIFE. Jesus' prayer is: "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD"--Matthew 6:11. Every time we have a meal, we always THANK GOD that HE has given is this food. Is this a mockery? Or is it a reality?
d. Lamentations 3:38 says:
"Is it not from the MOUTH of the Most High
that good and bad come?"
Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4 do not mean that "one does not live by bread alone but by every WORD [God's message] that come from the MOUTH of God," but "one does not live by BREAD alone but by every THING that comes from the MOUTH of God," referring to any kind of food. The Hebrew and Greek words involving in this text can mean "word" or "thing," and in these contexts, "thing" is the correct translation and meaning.
e. According to the Bible, the gift of food is a divine miracle. God supplies our food every day. He does this repeatedly, and it is very tempting to assume this is a "natural law." Not according to the word of God. See Psalm 104:14; Amos 4:7-8; Matthew 5:45.
A PLEA: PLEASE rethink and restudy all these and related biblical teachings.

Share YOUR insights and complaints and differences and intuitions and feelings and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis