The Unfolding of a Miracle – (Luke 9)

Luke, ever the accurate historian as has been proved time and gain, correctly refers to Herod Antipas as Herod the tetrarch in verse 7 of chapter 9. By this time, Herod has already had John the baptist beheaded, yet these stories of Jesus keep coming to him; and some people were saying that He was John – raised from the dead. Others said He was Elijah, and still others said that He was another one of the prophets. Verse 9 has Herod reassuring himself, but he resolved to meet Jesus face to face. One cannot help but wonder if guilt on Herod’s part has also placed some fear in his heart.

Luke’s account of the feeding of the Five Thousand

Meanwhile, Jesus’ apostles returned from the mission He had sent them on, and reported to Him all that had happened while they were gone. Jesus took them and went to Bethsaida, a town just east of where the Jordan River flowed into the Sea of Galilee. As usual, word spread quickly among the crowds, and they followed them. Jesus preached to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who needed healing among them.

The miraculous feeding of the 5,000 occurred on the shores of the Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida.

The miraculous feeding of the 5,000 occurred on the shores of the Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida.

As the end of the day was coming close, the apostles became concerned for the people, coming to Jesus to dismiss them, so they could find food and a place to stay. But Jesus told the apostles to feed them. Having only a couple of fish and five loaves of bread, they protested the impossibility of feeding five thousand men and all of the women and children as well. Having them sat in groups of about fifty each, he blessed the food, looking toward heaven.  Everyone ate until they were satisfied, and twelve baskets full of broken pieces were taken up afterward.

We are not told why Jesus had them separated into groups of “about fifty,” and speculation about that is futile, since the whole thing was miraculous anyway.  But one might wonder what the apostles saw, as they made sure that the food was passed around throughout what would have to be well over 100 of these groups of people. We cannot know how it all unfolded, but let’s try for a minute to just imagine what it could have been like.

When Jesus broke the loaves, He must have given portions to each of the twelve apostles. One can only imagine their sense of foreboding as they handed their portion off to the first group – no doubt expecting it to run out long before reaching the last of the fifty people in their first group. When that did not happen, and as each of the twelve transferred the food from one group to another, did they see the amount of food undiminished in quantity or was it gradually growing? It seems likely that the latter would be the case.

Imagine that sense of dread they felt initially turning first to surprise, and then to amazement. It is easy to imagine then that the excitement would build into a giddy and festive atmosphere that would be contagious to these crowds!

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Wheat and the Chaff

The baptisms performed by John the baptist, the truth in his preaching, and the authoritative warnings of the urgency of repentance were just some of the things that made the people who witnessed it all (and, no doubt, many who simply had heard about him) wonder if he was the Messiah that had been promised to come since the beginning (Genesis 3:15). Indeed, Luke 3:15 points out that many must have desperately wanted him to be “the one.” But verse 16 tells us how John answered that question:

“I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Winnowing grain by tossing it into the wind so the chaff will blow away

Winnowing grain by tossing it into the wind so the chaff will blow away

The concept of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is fairly straightforward to us as Christians – followers of Christ, who have been baptized with true repentance have had their lives changed, and can be guided by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But what is meant by the statement that He will baptize with fire? The answer can be found in the following verse:

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Rather than being something positive for Christ’s followers, the baptism by fire is the judgment for the unbelievers, with the unbelievers represented by “chaff” in that verse. Chaff is the dry, scaly, inedible casing of seed or grain. Before the invention of the threshing machine in the latter part of the 18th century, threshing was often done by placing the sheaves on the threshing floor and beating them or running over them. It was the most labor intensive part of the harvest. Afterward, the wheat would be separated by winnowing, often done with a winnowing fork by tossing the grain into the wind so that the chaff would be blown away. The chaff was often burned then to dispose of it.

The Baptism of Jesus

The Baptism of Jesus (Photo credit: Travis S.)

Luke then speaks in verse 18 of John’s distinction of being the first preacher of the “good news” of the kingdom of heaven – a very different sort of prophet from those who had come before him in the Old Testament. But not everyone was happy with the preaching of John the baptist (verse 19). Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas, had the title of “tetrarch,” which means “ruler of a quarter” (his father had divided Judea into districts, and he was given Galilee and Perea). He had divorced his first wife, and taken his brothers wife, Herodias. John’s condemnation of this and many evil acts done by the ruler resulted in Herod having him thrown in prison.

Verses 21-22 tell of Jesus submitting to the baptism, and of the sign of the Holy Spirit and God’s pleasure in His Son. Though these verses come after the verse about John’s imprisonment, one should not infer that Luke did not know of John’s role in Jesus’ baptism, as he acknowledges John’s role in Acts 1:22.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Mark 6 – The Death of John the Baptist

Here, we have another account of Jesus returning to His hometown.  Verse 5 simply means that their lack of faith prevented him from doing many mighty works.  Indeed, His own family had already believed him to be out of His mind (Mark 3:20-21).  In verses 7-13, He sends out the apostles, giving them authority over the unclean spirits, and to heal.

In verses 14-16, we find Herod Antipas leaning toward the belief that Jesus must be John the Baptist raised from the dead – perhaps because of fear from his own guilt in John’s death.  Verse 17-29 detail the death of John the Baptist, as his pronouncement of lawlessness on Herod’s part (he had committed adultery by marrying his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias) cost John his life in an ugly and inhumane act of murder (verses 27-28).

Verse 30 takes up when the apostles return to Jesus, and tell Him all that they had done.  He takes them to a “desolate place” by boat to get away from the crowds and to rest.  But people were already waiting for them when they came ashore.  In verse 34 He “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd,” and began teaching them.  The disciples wanted to send them away so they could eat, but Jesus told them that they would feed them.  This time, there were five thousand men, plus women and children, and they fed them with five loaves of bread and two fish; and they took up twelve baskets full when everyone was full (verse 43).  Two hundred denarii in verse 37 was about 200 days worth of a laborer’s wages.

Jesus sent His disciples ahead to Bethsaida by boat, as He dismissed the crowds and went up to the mountain to pray.  But they were making their way “painfully” because of the wind, and Jesus began walking out to them on the water about the fourth watch (between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.).  When they saw Him, they thought it was a ghost, but He told them not to be afraid – “it is I.”  As He got in the boat, the wind ceased.  Mark explains that the hardness of their hearts kept them from seeing who He really was, despite the miracle of the loaves or seeing Him walk on the sea with their own eyes.

Verse 53 seems to indicate that the wind had taken them southwest of Bethsaida to Gennesaret.  As He came to the villages, cities and countryside, word had spread of His arrival; and people brought the sick to Him.  “On their beds” in verse 55 would indicate some gravely ill people being brought.  Contrast verse 5 with verse 56.  Many just wanted to touch the fringe of His garment, believing that would heal them.  That faith made it so.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.