Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/thayer-miracle/
Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
“Can you please help me?” This is a phrase heard frequently in our household by our four year old, Micaiah. It’s implied just as often by our 18 month old, Naomi. It’s shocking to see all we have to learn how to do. From getting dressed to eating—few things come naturally, most of them we learn.
As my wife and I raise our children, we are experiencing their dependence on us for all of these little things in life. We’ve also started to learn that one of our roles is to teach our children to be able do these tasks on their own. Our son needs to learn how to get dressed when I’m not around. Our daughter needs to learn how to take care of her hair when her Mommy isn’t there to pull it out of her face. We are equipping our children for life.
These lessons aren’t always easy, however. Sometimes it’s more comfortable for our son or daughter to rely on us to do something for them instead of relying on the knowledge and power that we’ve already given them by equipping them for the task. It’s easier for my son to ask me to put his coat on than it is for him to do it himself. As a parent, though, I know that my son needs more than just to put on his coat today—I need to equip him to know how to keep himself warm when I’m not there.
This is what today’s passage of scripture highlights. In Luke 9:1-6 Jesus sends the disciples out in His authority to do the same things that Jesus had been doing: driving out demons, curing diseases, and preaching the Kingdom of God. Jesus turns them from observers to participants. From passive to partner.
After they return from this trip and thousands flock to Jesus, He finds another opportunity to reinforce this lesson. It gets late and the crowd gets hungry. So the disciples decide the best thing to do is to have Jesus send them home so they can eat. However, Jesus continues to equip His disciples by telling them to give them something to eat—to perform a miracle—to do the same kind of thing He had already given them the authority and power to do just a few verses earlier. They missed the message, but Jesus didn’t miss the opportunity. Jesus thanked God for the bit of food they had and handed it to the Twelve who in turn handed it to the 5,000+ in attendance. They didn’t sit back and watch Jesus perform a miracle. Jesus made them an integral part in it. He made them His partners, His agents for delivering the food to the crowd.
As you find out when you continue to read through Luke, the rest of the Gospels, and Acts—there is a purpose for this: Jesus is going to leave, but He is going to give His authority and power to His followers to act in His name, to accomplish His mission. It is only through His power, but it is by the hands of His people.
This might stir up your view of God a little bit. It might shock you to hear that God doesn’t just want His followers to sit back while He does all the work but wants us to be active participants, partners even, in the work of His Kingdom. Where has God asked you to partner with Him? Where might you be asking Him to do something by Himself when He wants to partner with you in it?