Christianity 103: Meet Needs
Lesson Passages: Luke 9:10-17, 37-43a
April 15, 2012
1. Notice Needs
2. Take Action
3. Trust God
To help Christians meet people’s physical and spiritual needs,
Notice Needs (Luke 9:10-12)
10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus all that they had done. He took them along and withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds found out, they followed Him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.
12 Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”
Verse 10- As part of their training, Jesus sent the apostles on a ministry mission without Him. Luke used the word apostles to point out the 12 disciples whom Jesus chose. The term means “sent-out ones” and came to mean those who took up Jesus’ mission to the world.
Upon their return from this successful effort, the group reported to Jesus. Although Luke wrote no details, they probably gave Jesus a complete account of their efforts. They preached, healed, and cast out demons in His name.
Once back together, Jesus took the disciples to a private place. Possibly the stress of their ministry required a time for rest away from the demanding crowds. Another possibility is that Jesus simply wanted to remove Himself from the territory of Herod Antipas, who had arrested and later beheaded John the Baptist; and now was “perplexed” by the things he heard about Jesus.
Verse 11- Jesus and the apostles had difficulty finding peace and quiet. The adoring crowds found out where they were and followed them; Jesus welcomed them. Some people might be upset at an interruption of their rest time; not Jesus. His loving nature made Him sensitive to the people’s needs. He carried on as if this interruption belonged in the plan all along.
Steadiness was Jesus’ approach to ministry. He handled this multitude as He did in other situations. Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God. He explained the need for God to be living in human hearts. Like any good teacher, Jesus repeated this message often in hopes of it hitting home with His hearers. Pastors and teachers preach and teach the same Bible verses many times in a lifetime. Each time they do it we all need to hear it again.
Verse 12- This gathering lasted until late in the day. Day’s end meant the approach of mealtime. The Twelve (apostles) showed their practical side when they insisted that Jesus send the crowd away. The verb send is an imperative, (necessary), suggesting that the cocky apostles ordered Jesus to dismiss the crowd. Instead, He had spent the day teaching and meeting the needs of the multitude. The disciples, however, never thought about His ability to meet the great need for food. (Could believers today make the same kind of mistake?)
The disciples suggested that Jesus send the people into more populated areas nearby to find food and lodging. The Twelve felt the crowd ought to take care of their own hunger. Being in a deserted place meant there would be little to no possibility of the crowd’s finding food from the residents in that area.
Take Action (Luke 9:13-17)
13 “You give them something to eat,” He told them. “We have no more than five loaves and two fish,” they said, “unless we go and buy food for all these people.”14 (for about 5,000 men were there.)
Then He told His disciples,“Have them sit down in groups of about 50 each.” 15 They did so, and had 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. He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets of leftover pieces.
Verse 13- Jesus turned the tables on the apostles when they wanted Him to send the hungry away. He said, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus identified a lack of understanding in the disciples. They had met the needs of people on their recent training mission. When faced with the crowd, however, a supernatural (not of this world) solution never crossed their minds.
Jesus, however, refused to dismiss the people so quickly. That’s why He suggested the disciples do something themselves. The Twelve, however, failed to “get it.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish.” Their minds considered only the logical solution of food they had on hand. Five thin pieces of bread and two small fish would not go far. Furthermore, they didn’t have the money to go and buy food for such a crowd.
Verse 14- The estimate of 5,000 men in the crowd was too much for the disciples. This number probably did not include the women and children also there. The situation appeared to be an impossible task. Jesus, however, loved doing the impossible when it served the higher purpose of glorifying God.
Jesus instructed the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of about 50 each. Organization of the large crowd into smaller groups allowed for an orderly distribution of food.
Verse 15- The disciples followed Jesus’ instruction and had the people sit down. In this position the people might receive and consume the food more comfortably.
Verse 16- Jesus took the bread and fish after the disciples organized and seated the crowd. He took advantage of the resources at hand. As He did later at the Lord’s Supper before His death, Jesus filled the role of Host at the meal.
Jesus began by looking up to heaven. He sought God’s approval and expressed gratitude to the Heavenly Father for the food as He blessed it in prayer. This prayer of thanks followed typical Jewish tradition at a meal.
Then Jesus started the distribution. He kept giving food to the disciples to set before those in the groups. That Jesus kept giving indicates an ongoing activity. Can you imagine it? As fast as the disciples lined up to receive food, Jesus doled it out. They served small group after small group.
Take note of how Jesus involved the disciples in this ministry. This helped them come to grips with their lack of faith that kept them from providing food. Jesus showed them how to feed the people. It gave the disciples a chance to get practical experience in meeting needs.
Verse 17- Luke pointed out that everyone ate and was filled. No one in the crowd went hungry. Jesus provided more than a snack. Everyone there had all they needed to satisfy their hunger. After the crowd ate their fill, the disciples gathered the uneaten food. They collected 12 baskets of leftover pieces.
The Greek word, baskets, means a large container often used by soldiers to carry their food on a mission. The leftovers, then, amounted to a significant amount of food. This pointed out the ability of Jesus to provide more than enough. Did the crowd know where the food came from? We can only guess. For certain, however, the apostles were aware of the supernatural nature of the feeding.
This makes sense. At this point in His ministry, Jesus was directing more clear instructions to His disciples about His true role. They had a lack of faith. So Jesus used this miracle of multiplication to help the apostles’ understand faith.
Trust God (Luke 9:37-43a)
37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, because he’s my only child. 39 Often a spirit seizes him; suddenly he shrieks, and it throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; wounding him, it hardly ever leaves him. 40 I begged Your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.”
41 Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”
42 As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, cured the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43a And they were all astonished at the greatness of God.
Verse 37- The next day, or the day after His transfiguration experience on the mountain, Jesus came back to face yet another difficult situation. He faced a large crowd. They wanted something from Jesus.
Verse 38- As Jesus met the crowd, a man cried out. This voice within the crowd addressed Jesus as “Teacher.” Use of this respectful title pointed out the man’s understanding of Jesus’ special nature. The man said, “I beg You to look at my son.” As with so many from the crowds that pressed Jesus, this man wanted His help. The word look shows a sincere concern such as God might show toward someone. A sense of need filled the man because this son was an only child. This fact pointed out even more the importance of the situation at hand.
Verse 39- The man described the terrible problems that afflicted his boy: “Often a spirit seizes him.” While the father didn’t say the oppressive spirit was demonic, the larger view of the situation reveals that it was. The sudden shrieking was connected with demonic activity. Other symptoms resemble what we know about certain types of epileptic seizures, including convulsions and foaming at the mouth. The similar account of this event in Matthew’s Gospel adds that the boy often fell “into the fire and … into the water.” The child suffered from more than just an illness; he suffered from a relentless demon-caused affliction. The father explained, “It hardly ever leaves him.”
Verse 40- The father revealed a stunning truth. He confessed, “I begged your disciples to drive it out.” Only three disciples accompanied Jesus to the mountain. The other nine had stayed behind. Evidently this man brought his child to them while Jesus was on the mountain. These disciples, however, once again demonstrated weak faith. Jesus previously had given them “authority over all the demons” (Luke 9:1). They failed to use that authority. (Could this happen to a believer today?)
Verse 41- When He heard this report, Jesus said, “You unbelieving and rebellious generation.” He addressed not only the helpless disciples but all present. They missed a key principle. God gives His power to those who believe that He can deal with issues that seem impossible to humans.
Jesus asked, “How long will I be with you and put up with you?” As we know, He served among them for a limited time. Soon they would be left without His human presence to pick them up when their faithlessness made them weak. Jesus said to the man, “Bring your son here.” This showed His intention to act. Although He showed aggravation with those present; Jesus’ compassion toward the needy never changed.
Verse 42- When the father brought the child closer, the demon knocked him down. In a last desperate attempt at control, the demon afflicted the boy again. The child collapsed from severe convulsions.
At this point, however, Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit. This classic situation between the healing power of God and the destructive power of the demon brought the incident to a head. Jesus won! He cured the boy. In a powerful show of compassion and love, Jesus gave him back to his father.
Verse 43a- The power of this event caught the attention of all present. They came away astonished at the greatness of God. Jesus succeeded in drawing attention through the miracle to the majesty and glory of a healing God. All people need to be reminded of His ability to show His power on behalf of those He loves. In this world today, God is our best friend!
WAYNE CLEMONS, TEACHER
Format duplicated and used by permission
© 2012 Lifeway Christian Resources of
The Southern Baptist Convention 2012