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 healed those who needed healing. 12 Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to him, “Send the crowd away, so that they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.” 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 five thousand men were there.) Then he told his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did what he said, 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. They picked up twelve baskets of leftover pieces.
Many people are great at planning. Every season is full of work, school, homework, birthday parties, social events and family vacations. Days flow by efficiently…until interruptions arise. The electricity goes out, the car breaks down, blankets of snow give kids time off school, etc. Life slows down, and it’s finally time to set down the electronics, play with the kids, read a book, study the Bible or talk with a neighbor. Times like these can yield significant life lessons and help people to appreciate the abundant ways God blesses humanity.
In the passage today, Jesus had an opportunity to shift gears and welcome an interruption. Jesus was in the midst of His public ministry. He was busy traveling from town to town, leading and teaching His disciples—all the while heading to His ultimate destination: Jerusalem and the cross. He knew He would suffer for the sins of people, taking their punishment upon Himself to free them from eternal punishment and give them eternal life.
In Luke 9:10-17, Jesus had business to attend to with the apostles who had just returned from a missionary journey. As He was taking them aside, He was interrupted by people vying for His attention. It is not surprising that the crowds flocked to Jesus. He traveled throughout the countryside preaching, teaching and performing miraculous healings where the common people were. He knew that the people who needed to hear the message (common people, sinners, tax collectors) were not welcome in the synagogue, so He and His disciples brought the message to them.
Jesus’ mission was focused on the eternal need of humanity—saving us from the consequences of our sin. However, rather than dismissing the interruption and continuing on to the cross, Jesus seized the opportunity to heal and teach about the kingdom of God. Because He also cares about the physical needs of our lives, He didn’t ignore the needs of the people when the day waned, and they had no food. He miraculously provided food for 5,000 men, plus women and children, with only five loaves of bread and two fish.
In our course of our lives, we may endure seasons of happiness and seasons of suffering. In today’s passage Jesus shows us that even during current or future suffering, we are given moments to bring the kingdom of God to people who don’t know the Lord or the message of the gospel. May God grant us the wisdom to recognize these opportunities and the courage to speak the truth in love.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Ask God to help you see interruptions as opportunities to point someone to Jesus.
- Are you connected to an outreach ministry to bring the gospel to the community? If not, consider a PLACE coaching session to help you identify your ministry passions and ways to implement them in the community.
Pray for perseverance for our church family’s global workers. Pray they would hope in Christ daily before a task that can seem insurmountable. Pray they will continue to deeply trust that God is working in the people they are committed to reach.