Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2
September 20, 2009
12 And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.
13 But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.
14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company.
15 And they did so, and made them all sit down.
16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.
17 And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
1901 ASV Translation
12 And the day began to wear away; and the twelve came, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages and country round about, and lodge, and get provisions: for we are here in a desert place.
13 But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more than five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy food for all this people.
14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said unto his disciples, Make them sit down in companies, about fifty each.
15 And they did so, and made them all sit down.
16 And he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake; and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.
17 And they ate, and were all filled: and there was taken up that which remained over to them of broken pieces, twelve baskets.
- I. The Prelude Continued.
- A. The disciples told Him to send the multitude away to find lodging and food.
- 1. The day began to bow down...
- a. With thousands of people and the time constraints involved, the timing would have been late afternoon. Even with the crowd divided into segments of 50, delivering food to them from the hands of Jesus would have taken a long while (even if Jesus produced the equivalent of one meal per second, just the food for the 5,000 men would have taken an hour and twenty minutes and the probability is that the crowd was far greater than the 5,000 adult males enumerated).
- b. This declaration is needed for the record, but it is simply a record of the way time marches through the days every normal day of centuries of time.
- 2. The Twelve, having approached, said to Him...
- a. It is an interesting phenomenon how often "The Twelve" take it upon themselves to tell Jesus what to do.
- b. Up to this point in Luke's record, every time he used the word translated "approached" a miracle occurred (7:14; 8:24; 8:44; 9:12).
- c. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says the word includes the issue of "intent". It is an intensified form (a verb to which a preposition has been prefixed).
- 3. "Send the crowd away so that, having gone into the surrounding villages and fields, they might relax and find provisions, because here we are in an uninhabited place."
- a. The word translated "send away" literally means "to release from", but it is used of "forgiveness" (6:37) and "divorce" (16:18) as well as "permission to leave" (22:68).
- b. Those telling Jesus what to do want Him to tell the crowd what to do. There is a lot of "controlling" going on here and Luke is the one creating this impression. The implication is profound in light of his focus in this unit of thought upon "following Jesus" (do those who "follow" set the agenda?).
- c. The picture of the verb "that they may go" is not particularly unusual, but it is interesting that Luke uses it four times in this chapter and three of them are directly tied to the issue of "following Jesus as a disciple". The chapter begins with Jesus sending The Twelve off on a task for which they are to make no provision so that they may learn to do what He says with no regard for any consideration except doing what He says (22:35). The chapter ends with two records of people making excuses for not doing what He says (9:59-62). This reminds me of the old statement made by Alfred Lord Tennyson in The Charge of the Light Brigade, "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die." It has been altered to "ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die", but the sentiment is the same: if there is to be a united Kingdom, there cannot be a host of folks refusing to do what they are told.
- d. Relaxing and eating: these are the "normal" desires of those who seek Jesus for their own purposes and are the primary reasons people simply do not take His instructions to heart.
- e. The reasoning of The Twelve is that "we are in a deserted place". To their credit they do not seem to be terribly inclined to "relax and eat" (they do not have provisions enough even for themselves), but they do not seem to think that the crowd should have to "make do". This is the typical attitude of the "controller" who will drive him/herself in order to "make it happen", but does not have any confidence that anyone else will adequately shoulder the responsibilities.
- 4. This is simply a pragmatic approach to a daily issue. The only reason we are told of it is that on this particular day Jesus was going to interrupt the pragmatism in a totally unexpected way. Many of Jesus' spectacular demonstrations of power were done in this manner. He normally let things develop according to the norm and let life go on within those norms. There is no indication that He expected or desired that His disciples, or the crowds, would be looking for these aberrations of the norms.
- B. He told them to feed the crowd.
- 1. The command is intensive: You give them to eat.
- 2. The command is completely unexpected and far beyond the abilities and resources of The Twelve. Because of this, there can be little doubt that this was another "test" of "faith". Here we must be clear: "faith" is not a matter of The Twelve coming up with some kind of "special event" for which they "expect" from God. Faith is responding to what has been commanded with expectation of the provision required for the command to be obeyed. There is a fine line here, but the fact is that it was not an idea of The Twelve that they put Jesus on the spot in order to prove to others that He was capable. It was altogether Jesus' idea and it was totally outlandish.
- C. They objected.
- 1. They said they had only five loaves and two fish.
- 2. They also said that the only way they could do what He said was for them to go and buy enough food for all of the people.
- D. He told the disciples to organize the crowd into groups of 50 and seat them.
- 1. There were approximately 5,000 men (specifically "males") present.
- 2. Jesus told The Twelve to get them all seated in groups of 50.
- E. They did as He instructed.
- II. The Event.
- A. He took five loaves and two fish.
- B. He looked to heaven.
- C. He "blessed" the food.
- D. He gave food to the disciples until all were fed.
- E. When all were filled, the leftovers were gathered into twelve baskets.
- III. The Point.
- A. Jesus was able to feed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish.
- B. Jesus was capable of being the resource of Life for five thousand men. Clearly He was capable of being "the Christ", an identity not mentioned in the prior paragraph regarding Herod who was not capable of being a resource of Life for anyone. This is the point, given the following paragraph.
- C. Jesus was interested in getting folks ready for participation in the Kingdom of God, not becoming the local Super Wal-Mart or being the tourist attraction for the businesses of Bethsaida.