Daily Devotional

September 2, 2019

Daybreak: Luke 9:1-36

“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. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.” (Luke 9:16-17)

God is well able to provide for the physical needs of man, even in situations that appear to be impossible. In today’s text, Jesus used five loaves and two fishes to nourish five thousand men. In a more recent miracle of divine provision, God provided water for a farming family whose trust was in Him.

Back in the 1920s, Owen and Oca Wilson moved onto a homestead in South Dakota. For a time their farm did well, but then a period of extended drought came. There was not enough rain to supply the water table, and all the wells in the area were going dry. Farmers lacked water for their animals and the situation was becoming increasingly desperate.

Owen Wilson was a Christian, and it was natural for him to bring situations like this before God. One day as he was praying in the farmhouse, God gave him specific direction on where to dig to find water. The place the Lord indicated was a very unlikely spot, but Owen was willing to dig anyplace at all in obedience to God’s instruction. He walked to the barn and got his posthole digger, went out to the location God had showed him, and began to dig. A posthole digger could only go down about three-and-a-half or four feet, but before Owen reached the four-foot mark, water began filling the hole. He had uncovered an artesian spring!

That spring supplied so much water that the Wilsons let the neighbors know they could come and get all the water they wanted. Nearby farmers began arriving with barrels and tubs on their wagons, which they filled with water. Some of them said to Owen, “Why don’t you sell the water? It is on your land and it belongs to you.” He replied, “No, it’s the Lord’s water — He showed me where it was. You can have all you want free of charge.” For the duration of the drought, that well met all the water needs of the surrounding area. In fact, the spring was still producing water when the Wilson family eventually moved from the homestead.

It is interesting to note that in both the account in our text and in the provision of water for the Wilsons’ drought-stricken community, God chose to use human instrumentalities to bring a solution. The disciples obeyed the command of Jesus to carry the loaves and fishes to the multitude, and the huge crowd was fed. Owen Wilson obeyed the direction that came to him as he prayed, and abundant water was provided for him and his neighbors. What a lesson for us! No matter how impossible the situation or task set before us may appear to be, when we step out in faith and obedience to God’s command, we can be assured of the results.

Let us purpose to avoid any tendency to focus on what we do not have: not enough food or water or strength or ability or whatever. When we face challenges, it is good to remember that God is able! There is no problem too big for Him to resolve. And He will never ask us to do anything that we cannot accomplish when we obey and simply look to Him for the resources He provides.

Background

Today’s text covers several significant events which occurred approximately six months prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, along with His first disclosure to His disciples of His impending death. Some Bible scholars refer to this chapter as the fourth period of Jesus’ Galilean ministry; it concludes Luke’s account of Jesus’ works in Galilee. (Luke covers the first period in chapter 4:14-44, the second in chapters 5:1-6:11, and the third in chapters 6:12-8:56.)

Verses 1-6 are a description of Jesus sending out the twelve disciples. This event is also recorded in Matthew 10:1-15 and Mark 6:7-13. Matthew’s description indicates that this mission was limited in scope: the twelve were to go exclusively to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6) since the religious leaders of the Jewish people were not fulfilling their role as spiritual shepherds. Christ granted these twelve disciples authority over all devils (the Greek word daimonian used here could also be translated “demons”; the Matthew account refers to authority over “unclean spirits”). They were also given ability to heal diseases, seemingly as a divine seal of approval upon their message.

Herod’s question regarding the identity of Jesus is described in verses 7-9. (This Herod was the son of the Herod who ordered all the male babies killed at the time of Jesus’ birth.) A wicked and contemptible man, Herod had previously beheaded John the Baptist (see Matthew 14:1-12), and he wondered if John had risen from the dead, or if Jesus was a reincarnation of Elijah or one of the other prophets. Herod’s desire to see Jesus was fulfilled just a few months later at Jesus’ trial in Jerusalem, when Pilate sent Jesus to him.

In verses 10-17, Luke records Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Apart from the Resurrection, this is the only miracle of Jesus which is described in all four Gospels. The term “desert place” (verse 10) meant an uninhabited area, somewhere near Bethsaida on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Matthew’s account indicates Jesus traveled there by ship while the people went on foot, probably traveling about eight miles. Matthew also adds the information that along with the five thousand men, an uncounted group of women and children were present. The women and children, in accord with custom, would have eaten separately from the men.

Peter’s acknowledgement that Jesus was the Messiah occurs in verses 18-20. This is followed by Jesus’ first prediction of His coming death (verse 22) and His teaching the disciples the necessity of faithfulness, self-denial, and daily sacrificial living (verses 23-27). In verse 26, Jesus cautioned against being “ashamed” of the Gospel. Luke, who was a Greek, would have recognized that his primarily Gentile audience would have no understanding of a God who died unless they looked past that to His Resurrection and Second Coming, when He “shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.”

The last segment of this text, verses 28-36, describes Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. Parallel accounts are given in Matthew 17:1-13 and Mark 9:2-13. Luke’s description provides three details which are unique to his account: that it was while Jesus was praying that He was transfigured (verses 28-29); that Moses and Elijah, who appeared with Jesus, spoke of His approaching death in Jerusalem (verse 30-31); and that Peter, James, and John, who accompanied Jesus, were sleeping when the two Old Testament saints appeared, but awoke to see the three together (verse 32). Bible scholars suggest that Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the prophets in their encouragement and support of Jesus as He faced the culmination of God’s plan and His payment of redemption’s price through His death.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

IV.    The ministry of the Son of Man
    D.    The conclusion of the ministry of the Son of Man
        1.    The commission of the twelve (9:1-6)
        2.    The anxiety of Herod (9:7-9)
        3.    The feeding of the five thousand (9:10-17)
        4.    The revelation of the Son of Man
            a.    Concerning His person (9:18-20)
                (1)    Jesus’ question (9:18)
                (2)    The disciples’ reply (9:19)
                (3)    Peter’s reply (9:20)
            b.    Concerning His work (9:21-27)
            c.    Concerning His glory (9:28-36)

A Closer Look

  1. What did Jesus tell His disciples that they were not to take with them as they went forth to preach the Gospel? Why do you think He gave this instruction?

  2. Jesus taught His disciples that they should be prepared to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily, and be willing to die. Why was this understanding so important for them?

  3. What are some of the blessings that come into our lives through self-denial?

Conclusion

No challenge is too big for God — His resources and ability are unlimited! Our challenge is to simply believe in Him no matter what circumstances we face or what pressures array themselves against us.

Reference Materials