Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m a carb-aholic.
I LOVE bread.
One of the great things about eating at restaurants is that they always bring you bread before dinner. I remember being a kid, going to the Olive Garden, and filling up on breadsticks. Who needs dinner? I’ve got breadsticks!
I imagine Jesus was a guy a lot like me. He loved bread. Well, perhaps not as much as I do, but he sure used bread a lot.
He used it for food.
He used it for teaching illustrations.
Yeah, Jesus was a carb-aholic, too!
And that brings us to the word of the day: BREAD.
It’s time for church…
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.
What we have going on here is a case of passing the torch. The disciples have been around Jesus and have seen him in action. Now Jesus tells them it’s time to put their training into practice. The disciples are to depend on God for their sustenance which will come through the hospitality of those they serve. The dust has to do with not allowing any foreign dust to contaminate Jewish soil—it is a rejection of the unholy. If people reject the messenger of God, they are also rejecting God. In the words of Taylor Swift, “Shake it off!” Move on to fertile ground.
The debate in Christian circles here is how far Jesus’s commission applies. Was it good only for those twelve? Or is Jesus’ commission to preach and perform wonders still the commission to his disciples today? Though some Christians are uncomfortable with the idea of healing ministries, there is nothing biblical to say that modern disciples have any less of a calling to preach and heal. But the acts of power always go hand-in-hand with the preaching. The purpose of the power is to demonstrate the presence of the kingdom of God here and now.
On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
The crowds follow Jesus because they are impressed with the miracles and signs. Are these people committed to Christ? No, they’re just there for the show. But Jesus didn’t turn them away. He welcomed them.
Getting on my soapbox for a second.
There is something those of us who are part of the worldwide church can learn here. We can be welcoming to all people without insisting they act, look, or sound a certain way. The 5,000 people weren’t checked by the disciples to make sure they were acceptable. All were welcomed. Jesus never downplayed sin. He told people to their faces to stop sinning. But he always let the crowd come around to see what was going on.
Too often we focus on changing people BEFORE we let them come around. We want people to be saints before they can be part of our group. This isn’t the way I see Jesus doing it.
Okay, getting off soapbox.
The disciples had just returned from an incredible mission doing God’s work but their heads at once return to normal. Jesus is trying to continue their mission, but they back down. When the need for God’s work is to be done, Jesus says, “YOU FEED THEM!” They should have stepped right up and said, “YES!” But they didn’t. They were being stretched beyond their limits and didn’t know what to do.
So Jesus steps up to handle business his way. What we see is a reflection of the Old Testament, where Moses also instructed the people and was involved in a miraculous feeding in the wilderness. Mark’s version of this story also includes an allusion to Psalm 23. Jesus seats people on the green grass and, as in Psalm 23, the Shepherd causes them to lie down in green pastures.
At the end of the day, Jesus demonstrates God’s abundant provision by miraculously providing for thousands of people in the middle of nowhere. This provision is a continuation of the preaching of the Good News—the Gospel—that God’s kingdom is breaking into this present reality!
This power of God is not myth.
It’s not fantasy.
Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is called Our God, one of my all-time favorites. It talks about the action and power of God.
Water you turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like you
None like you…!
He is the God who can meet all our needs!
Our second song is Nothing Is Wasted. Think about the needs in your life. Jesus can provide for your needs. He shows time and again in the Bible that he works all things for our good—even in the tough times. Our needs might be physical, spiritual, or emotional, but he can meet them abundantly. The song declares,
You are loving, You are wise
There is nothing in my life You cannot revive
You are loving, You are wise
There is nothing too hard for our God
– Will we pick up and go when God sends us? How far will we go to depend on God’s provision rather than our own preparedness? Where do we rely on ourselves when we should rely on God?
– What does it look like today to “shake the dust off our feet?”
– How do we as disciples find ourselves sometimes at odds with what Jesus wants us to do? What do we ask Jesus to do when he is telling us to do it?
– How has being a disciple of Jesus stretched me beyond my limits?
MAKING IT REAL
– This week, do your part to fulfill Jesus’ commission. How can you spread the Good News and do his work?
– How can you serve people in his name?
– Try to welcome people to hear the gospel no matter who they are.
– If you’ve never come to the place in your life where you have decided to be a follower of Jesus and want to know more, please shoot us a message and we’ll be glad to talk to you about what it means to be a follower!