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God’s Word for You

Luke 9:10-11 Jesus preaches to the crowds

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, April 26, 2018

Jesus Feeds More Than Five Thousand
(Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; John 6:1-14)

10 When the apostles returned and told Jesus what they had done, he took them and withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida. 11 But when the crowds found out and followed him, he welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed healing.

Bethsaida is on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, not far from Capernaum.

Jesus had more than one reason for withdrawing privately with his apostles. Matthew remembered that this was the time when Jesus first heard about John’s death in prison (Matthew 14:13). Here Luke tells us that Jesus also wanted to have time to talk to his apostles about the things that they had said and done—a kind of debriefing. The private time didn’t last, though. People were hearing about Jesus, and they wanted to find him.

The Lord didn’t send them away. Instead, he welcomed them. The verb dechomai “welcome” (cp. Luke 9:5 above) is intensified here (apo-dechomai), perhaps to show that Jesus welcomed them happily; he was glad to see them.

What did Jesus do first? “He spoke to them about the kingdom of God.” He preached to them. When Jesus described the kingdom of God in his parables, it was usually an illustration of the way God gathers people into the church—always through the word of God. Sometimes he described it like a farmer sowing seed (Luke 8:5), and other times like a small seed that grows into a large tree (Luke 13:19) or a small amount of yeast that works and works throughout a whole batch of dough (Luke 13:21).

We don’t have a record of exactly what Jesus said on this occasion, but the crowd was vast. How did all the people hear him? In this case, we have a clue in the number of Jesus’ disciples. It’s likely that Jesus, who had preached the same parables to small groups, spoke them again now, with the apostles (who had heard these parables before and knew the content already) relaying the message, perhaps phrase by phrase, or parable by parable, to the crowds.

After preaching and praying, Jesus went from group to group in the crowds and healed their sick. Consider how well-behaved this massive crowd must have been! Jesus was not crushed; nor was anyone else. We would expect that any crowd would have behaved a lot more with a “crowd mentality” than this one did. But, undoubtedly at the direction of the apostles, this mass of humanity sat down where they were directed to, listened intently, and waited patiently for the Lord to come around to heal them. No wonder the count that was eventually made (more than 5,000 men) was so accurate. Each apostle would have seen to the listening needs to about 416 men and their families.

How many people does your pastor watch over, week by week, day by day? How many of those people cannot get to church because of health or distance? How many of them can, but choose not to? Pray for your pastor and his flock—the flock of which you are a member. He has many little troubles to fret about every day, and some that are not so little. Pray that God would bless him and give him strength and stamina. And pray that God would enable you to be a member of his flock who does not worry him, but helps him in some way. And then pray that God would help you to think and act the same way with Jesus, your Good Shepherd, as well.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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