(v1-6) Jesus’ instructions to the twelve are particular and specific because they are instructions to the apostles, previous to Jesus’ death and resurrection, for a specific mission. But nonetheless they hold important principles for our witness and mission today. They are not to go with so many provisions that they do not need to rely on the generosity of God and the realities of the local situation. Too many of us are so encumbered with possessions that half of our time and energy is spent merely looking after our “toys,” and it limits our ability to have an impact for God.
Then, they are to stay in the house where they first go. If they are welcomed, and if there is opportunity, they are not to go from one house to another, seeking better dinner or lodgings and arousing jealousy. By contrast too many of us flit from one opportunity to another, rather than “blooming where we were planted” and so growing our sense of connection and trust and reliance on the people to whom we are called to serve and among whom we are called to live. And then, while perhaps we are not likely literally to “shake off the dust” from our feet (apart from anything else because we do not probably walk around the dusty roads of ancient Israel wearing sandals), there is a time and a place to “move on” when people reject you. As Jesus says elsewhere: do not throw your pearls before swine. There are those who will reject God’s message. While we do not “judge” them, we also are strategic with our use of time and energy focusing on those who are responsive to the message of God.
(v7-9) Herod is now “perplexed.” He thought he had put a stop to all this religious fanfare by killing John, and yet all the energy that the apostles were bringing to the expanding mission of Jesus, and the miracles and healings, and the powerful proclamation, meant that some were saying that it was as if John had been risen from the dead. Herod knows that is not the case, verse 9, and so he seeks to see Jesus. Note: some people’s seeking to find out more is disingenuous. We are not to be naïve, but discerning.
(v10-17) Now comes the feeding of the five thousand. This story reveals the power of God. He can easily feed all these people. It also reveals God’s delight to use us, even in our weakness: he takes the five loaves and two fish and multiplies them. Do not then this morning think that you have so little to offer God that there is no point in taking your “five loaves and two fish” to him. God can take those few gifts and multiply them to feed a great crowd.
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