Luke 9:1-27 (NKJV)
Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. 4 “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. 9 Herod said, “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” So he sought to see Him.
10 And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11 But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. 12 When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” 13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” 15 And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17 So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.
18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” 20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”
Of the disciples who had been hearing the word of Christ, Jesus chose twelve and sent them out to preach His word, adding also the power to heal disease and to drive out demons. And they fulfilled their first mission admirably, preaching, teaching, and performing miracles by the power of Jesus’ word.
Isn’t it strange, then, that none of them could even imagine where they could possibly get food for those thousands of people who had spent the day with them? Isn’t it astonishing that they so quickly went back to relying on their own power and resources, causing them to despair? Isn’t it amazing that they didn’t immediately look to Christ Himself for help? “Lord, we are unable to do this thing. But You can!”
No, they had heard and seen so much from Christ, but in the moment, they still wavered. That turned out to be for their good and ours as it allowed Jesus to provide even more words and signs to bolster our shaky faith so that we do not waver quite so much.
In spite of their pattern of hearing and then forgetting, the word of God was still powerful and effective in them. They made the good confession upon which the Church is built: “You are the Christ of God.”
Of course, that confession has implications. If Jesus is the Christ of God, then surely we must follow Him! Surely we must hear Him and do as He says! And what does He say to those who confess Him? “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Yes, we are called to follow Jesus along the path of self-denial, suffering, and death, where all appears hopeless and bleak. But if we are listening, if we are willing to see with the eyes of faith, then we know that nothing is hopeless and nothing is bleak, for there is life and light and victory on the other side of the cross.
Let us pray: Father in heaven, in the midst of our weakness and in the face of the cross, fix our eyes on Jesus and open our ears to His word, that we may be victorious over this world and become participants with the King in His glory. Amen.