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Feeding of the Five Thousand (9:12–17)
Luke 9:14 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.
Luke 9:16 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.
Luke 9:17 So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.
This incident is filled with significance for disciples who are charged with the evangelization of the world. The five thousand represent lost humanity, starving for the bread of God.
The disciples picture helpless Christians, with seemingly limited resources, but unwilling to share what they have. The Lord’s command, “You give them something to eat” is simply a restatement of the great commission.
The lesson is that if we give Jesus what we have, He can multiply it to feed the spiritually hungry multitude.
The world could be evangelized in this generation if Christians would surrender to Christ all that they are and have. That is the enduring lesson of the feeding of the five thousand.
Peter’s Great Confession (9:18–22)
Luke 9:18 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?”
Immediately following the miraculous feeding of the multitude we have Peter’s great confession of Christ at Caesarea Philippi.
Did the miracle of the loaves and fishes open the eyes of the disciples to see the glory of the Lord Jesus as God’s Anointed One?
This incident at Caesarea Philippi is commonly acknowledged to be the watershed of the Savior’s teaching ministry with the twelve. Up to this point He has been patiently leading them to an appreciation of who He is and what He could do in and through them. Now He has reached that goal, and so He henceforth moves on determinedly to the cross.
Jesus prayed alone. It is not recorded that the Lord Jesus ever prayed with the disciples. He prayed for them, He prayed in their presence, and He taught them to pray, but His own prayer life was separate from theirs. What are your thoughts?
Following one of His seasons of prayer, He questioned the disciples as to who the crowds said that He was.
Luke 9:19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
Luke 9:20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
James Stewart’s writes He began with the impersonal question—“Whom do men say that I am?” That, at any rate, was not difficult to answer. For on every side men were saying things about Jesus. A dozen verdicts were abroad. All kinds of rumors and opinions were in the air. Jesus was on every tongue. And men were not only saying things about Jesus; they were saying great things about Him.
But Jesus was not content with that recognition. People were saying that he was John, Elijah, Jeremiah. But that meant that he was one in a series. It meant that there were precedents and parallels, and that even if he stood first in rank, he was still only primus inter pares, first among his equals.
But quite certainly that is not what the Christ of the New Testament claimed. Men may agree with Christ’s claim, or they may dissent from it; but as to the fact of the claim itself there is not the shadow of a doubt. Christ claimed to be something and someone unprecedented, unparalleled, unrivaled, unique.
Luke 9:21 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.”
Following Peter’s historic confession, the Lord commanded them not to tell others; nothing must interrupt His pathway to the cross.
Then the Savior unveiled His own immediate future to them. He must suffer, must be rejected by the religious leaders of Israel, must be killed and must be raised the third day.
This was an astounding announcement. Let us not forget that these words were spoken by the only sinless, righteous Man who ever lived on this earth. They were spoken by the true Messiah of Israel. They were the words of God manifest in the flesh.
They tell us that the life of fulfillment, the perfect life, the life of obedience to the will of God involves suffering, rejection, death in one form or another, and a resurrection to life that is deathless. It is a life poured out for others.
This of course was the very opposite of the popular conception of Messiah’s role. Men looked for a saber-rattling, enemy-destroying leader. It must have been a shock to the disciples.
But if, as they confessed, Jesus was indeed the Christ of God, then they had no reason for disillusionment or discouragement. If He is the Anointed of God, then His cause can never fail. No matter what might happen to Him or to them, they were on the winning side. Victory and vindication were inevitable.
Invitation to Take Up the Cross (9:23–27)
Luke 9:23 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.
Having outlined His own future, the Lord invited the disciples to follow Him. This would mean denying themselves and taking up their cross.
To deny self means willingly to renounce any so-called right to plan or choose, and to recognize His lordship in every area of life.
To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life He lived.
This involves:— The opposition of loved ones.— The reproach of the world.—Forsaking family and house and lands and the comforts of this life.— Complete dependence on God.—Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.— Proclamation of an unpopular message.— A p a t h w a y o f loneliness.— Organized attacks from established religious leaders.— S u f f e r i n g f o r righteousness’ sake.— Slander and shame.— Pouring out one’s life for others.— Death to self and to the world.
But it also involves laying hold of life that is life indeed! It means finding at last the reason for our existence. And it means eternal reward.
We instinctively recoil from a life of cross-bearing. Our minds are reluctant to believe that this could be God’s will for us. Yet the words of Christ “If anyone desires to come after Me” mean that nobody is excused and nobody is excepted.
Luke 9:24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
The natural tendency is to save our lives by selfish, complacent, routine, petty existences.
We may indulge our pleasures and appetites by basking in comfort, luxury, and ease, by living for the present, by trading our finest talents to the world in exchange for a few years of mock security.
But in the very act, we lose our lives, that is, we miss the true purpose of life and the profound spiritual pleasure that should go with it!
Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson