THE ALL-SUFFICIENT KING EQUIPS INADEQUATE DISCIPLES FOR EFFECTIVE MINISTRY
On the job training can be so much more valuable than just classroom training. Jesus is the master at equipping men for ministry. These events occur at the halfway mark of His earthly ministry. Up to this point it has been all about the teaching and healing ministry performed solely by Jesus. Now Jesus is introducing the principle of multiplication. The disciples need to work through what it means to be invested with the power and authority delegated to them by Jesus and also what it means to come to grips with their own sense of ministry inadequacy. At the end of the day, Jesus demonstrates that He can supply all of our needs and can satisfy us completely if we would just trust Him fully. He ministers with inexhaustible energy and unlimited compassion despite the burden of multitudes of desperately needy people pressing upon Him.
Steven Cole: Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all that needs to be done in serving the Lord? We are needy people serving Christ in a needy world. . . I feel overwhelmed with the immensity of the task and with my own inadequacy. How can I possibly meet the needs of this church, let alone the massive needs of this hurting world? Even the apostle Paul exclaimed, “Who is adequate for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16).
I. (:1-6) APOSTLES SENT OUT ON A MISSIONS TRIP –
PREACHING AND HEALING
A. (:1-2) Commissioning for the Missions Trip
1. (:1) Delegated Power and Authority Over Demons and Diseases
“And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases.”
It is one thing to be a powerful leader who can accomplish great things. It is on another level altogether to be able to equip and commission and enable your followers to perform the identical ministry functions.
This is part of the training process as Jesus prepares them to be ministry pioneers as He will soon depart.
2. (:2) Ministry Focus = Preaching and Healing
“And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God,
and to perform healing.”
These are the 2 critical areas they needed to master
MacArthur: So what happened was He sent them out for their internship. They went out two by two to preach the gospel, to do these miracles to attest to the validity of their message. Short-term, they came back, they reported, Jesus gathered them around and used their experience to further instruct them, to further teach them, as He worked through their intern experiences to continue the equipping process. Finally…They would do some of these short-term missions, but finally, the final stage would be their final sending at the time of the Great Commission before Jesus ascended into heaven, when He sent them into all the world to preach the gospel. And they were obedient and the book of Acts says they turned the world upside down, and you and I are all fruit of their ministry. Not only were they the first wave of preachers who preached the gospel and therefore they generated the second wave and every wave after that, but the apostles and their close associates were responsible for writing the New Testament to which, of course, all who believe are in debt. . .
These men had listened for eighteen months, now they were ready to speak what they had heard. They preached what Jesus preached. They went out. They preached about sin and about repentance and about grace and mercy from God, and the forgiveness of sin, that God would give the broken-hearted penitent sinner. And they preached that Jesus was the promised Messiah. And it wouldn’t be long before He would give His life for their sins and He would therefore ratify the covenant that provides salvation. . .
The profile of a messenger, this is it: preaches salvation, manifests compassion, maintains trust, demonstrates compassion, exercises discernment.
B. (:3-5) Logistical Instructions for the Missions Trip
1. (:3) Faith Approach for Support
“And He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.’”
The need was urgent; they were to make no special preparations for this trip. They would need to trust God for every day provisions. Teaching them the lesson of absolute dependence.
Lenski: These orders are not intended to inflict hardship on the disciples but to relieve them of all worry regarding their bodily needs. He who sends them out will himself attend to all these things.
J. Ligon Duncan: I suspect that Jesus is especially concerned that His disciples not look like beggars and charlatans looking to get from people rather than give to people something. People who would look like they were looking to get something out of the people that they were ministering to rather than to proclaim something to those people. Why?
Because if your message is — God is all-satisfying and that He gives a kingdom that gives the only satisfaction that there is and it is a satisfaction which surpasses anything this world can give, and you are caught up in getting things from the people of this age, you contradict your message.
2. (:4) Contentment Approach for Hospitality
“And whatever house you enter, stay there,
and take your leave from there.”
Donald Miller: They were to be content with their lot, not moving about from house to house to seek better entertainment.
3. (:5) Judgmental Approach for Rejection
“And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”
Geldenhuys: by this action they will indicate that they break all ties with them, and show in this decisive and irrevocable manner that they do not wish to have even a dust-speck from their streets upon them. This grave action will then serve as a last and urgent call to repentance.
C. (:6) Execution of the Missions Trip
“And departing, they began going about among the villages,
preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.”
II. (:7-9) ASIDE: PERPLEXITY OF HEROD REGARDING IDENTITY OF JESUS
A. (:7-8) Confusion
1. (:7a) Hearing Reports of the Ministry Activity
“Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening;”
2. (:7b-8) Differing Opinions Regarding the Identity of Jesus
“and he was greatly perplexed,”
a. John the Baptist
“because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,”
“and by some that Elijah had appeared,”
c. Resurrected Prophet
“and by others, that one of the prophets of old had risen again.”
Anyabwile: The crowd’s theories have three things in common:
– All the responses are religious theories. They’re certain Jesus is a prophet of some sort.
– All their theories are supernatural. Each of these suggestions requires either a resurrection or a miraculous return of Elijah, who was raptured to be with God and was prophesied to return before the Messiah.
– Each theory is wrong. Crowds rarely answer important questions correctly. Crowds are almost always divided and wrong. Do not put your confidence in the opinions of crowds for anything.
B. (:9) Curiosity
“And Herod said, ‘I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see Him.”
III. (:10-11) AFTERMATH OF THE MISSIONS TRIP
A. (:10a) Missions Report
“And when the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done.”
Apparently they were able to minister effectively
B. (:10b) Missions Break
“And taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida.”
Donald Miller: to escape Herod, who was now seeking to see him. Bethsaida was outside Herod’s territory. It could not be that Jesus should “perish away from Jerusalem” (13:33). Hence, he must avoid falling into Herod’s hands as John had, and thus meeting his fate prematurely.
C. (:11) Missions Continuation
1. Crowds Attracted to Jesus
“But the multitudes were aware of this and followed Him;”
2. Continuing to Preach and Heal
“and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God
and curing those who had need of healing.”
IV. (:12-17) FEEDING OF THE 5,000
A. (:12-14a) Commissioning for the Feeding
1. (:12) Apostles Feel the Burden of the Need
“And the day began to decline, and the twelve came and said to Him, ‘Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.’”
MacArthur: Had they already forgotten the power that they had? They had just come back from their mission of several weeks, casting out demons, raising dead people, healing sick people, preaching the gospel. Had they forgotten the power that they had? Power that had been demonstrated over nature because it was the same power Jesus had? Had they forgotten that? Had they forgotten 2 Kings 4:42 to 44, where in an Old Testament situation God granted similar kind of power? “A man came from Baal-shalishah, brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of corn in his sack, and he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat.’ And his attendants said, ‘What shall I set this before a hundred men?’ But he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat for thus says the Lord, they shall eat and have some left over.’ So he set it before them and they ate and had some left over, according to the Word of the Lord.” Didn’t they know about that incident in 2 Kings where God multiplied food? Or maybe they didn’t remember the story about the…the widow in Elijah’s day, where the oil never was gone even though it was poured out and the barrel of grain was never diminished even though it was used.
2. (:13-14a) Jesus Lays the Responsibility on the Apostles
“But He said to them, ‘You give them something to eat!’”
Jesus wants His ambassadors to have great expectations for what He can provide if we only will trust in Him completely
3. (:14a) Apostles Plead Their Lack of Resources
“And they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.’ (For there were about five thousand men.)”
Steven Cole: Christ will give us His adequacy to meet the needs of people if we yield our inadequacy to Him.
B. (:14b-16) Logistical Instructions
1. (:14b-15) Organization
“And He said to His disciples, ‘Have them recline to eat in groups of about fifty each.’ And they did so, and had them all recline.”
2. (:16) Multiplying the Available Resources
“And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the multitude.”
Lenski: What a picture – these thousands arranged ready to dine, and only a handful of food to set before them.
Steven Cole: The manner in which Jesus performed this miracle is significant. He could have called down manna from heaven. Commentators point out that this miracle took place in the wilderness and that the 5,000, seated in companies, recalls Israel camped by tribes in the wilderness under Moses. Calling down manna would have fit the situation. It would have been easier on the twelve. It would have been more efficient. But He didn’t do it that way.
Or, the Lord could have spoken the word and a loaf of bread would have miraculously appeared in each person’s hand. Everyone would have been more awed at Jesus’ power than they were with the quiet way this miracle was done. It would have been much more efficient and impressive than having the disciples distribute the bread and fish to this large crowd, which must have taken a long time.
Or Jesus could have called angels who could have taken the bread from His hand and flown directly to each group and given them the food. People would have been amazed. They would have talked about it for the rest of their lives. It would have been stupendous!
But how did Jesus do it? He used the disciples to distribute the bread and fish to the people. I’m convinced that the Lord did the miracle that way to teach the disciples that His method for meeting the needs of a lost world is through people. Christ meets the needs of people through people. But note carefully the kind of people He uses: Inadequate people!
C. (:17) Execution of the Feeding Miracle – Jesus Supplies and Satisfies All Our Needs
“And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.”
This is the only miracle recorded in all 4 gospels – speaks to its importance to the apostles.
J. Ligon Duncan: Jesus is more than enough.
MacArthur: The precision of our Lord is staggering. He creates and He creates to the last morsel, exactly what it takes to feed every single person, then have twelve baskets left to feed twelve apostles. And there’s nothing left over. Generosity, yes. Precision, staggering, absolutely staggering. He’s generous but He’s precise. He gives, but He doesn’t waste. He has demonstrated His deity in an unmistakable way. Nobody can do this but God. He is the Messiah of God. He is the Son of God. He is the Lord. The crowd that had experienced this, you’d think they’d fall on their faces, you’d think they’d say, “Lord, feed our souls the way You fed our bodies. Lord, take us to the glories of Your kingdom. Heal our spirits the way You healed our…our physical ailments. Lord, we worship You, we bow before You, bring Your kingdom to our hearts.”
Steven Cole: When I was a boy, I used to watch “The Lone Ranger” on TV. At the end of each episode, after the Lone Ranger had saved the victims from some villain, he would mount his horse, Silver. The rescued victim would ask Tonto, who always managed to be standing nearby, “Who is that masked man?” Tonto would reply, “Don’t you know? That’s the Lone Ranger.” Silver would stand on his hind legs, the Lone Ranger would wave and cry, “Hi ho, Silver, away!” To the tune of the “William Tell Overture,” he would ride off into the sunset and get ready for the next episode when he would rescue someone else in need.
Through our witness, people should be able to answer the question, “Who is this Man Jesus?” They should know, “He is the Lord God in human flesh, who offered Himself in the place of sinners. Whoever trusts in Him is reconciled to God and receives eternal life as His free gift.” God has entrusted to us the great task of carrying on the work of Jesus. As Peter instructs us, “Set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; …” (1 Pet. 3:15). Jesus is the Savior and Lord, coming to judge the world and reign as King! Let’s boldly proclaim it.