February 6, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 9)

Submitted by Mike F. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Luke 9:10-17
What can I learn about love from the following phrases?

  • – “…but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them…”
    – “You give them something to eat.”
    – “He gave thanks and broke them…”
    – “They all ate and were satisfied.”
    – “The disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”
  • From the above phrases, I see how Jesus welcomed interruption, opening himself up to the crowds and the wealth of needs they had even as He wanted to probably minister to his apostles and have a time of rest. Love manifests itself in putting your needs after the emerging, unpredictable needs of others in your life. It means to be open to the burdens, issues, and hardship that come when you involve yourself in the lives of those around you. As Jesus charges the apostles to feed the teeming crowds, hungry and tired from following Jesus to this place of withdrawal, He is trying to teach them ownership and responsibility. The disciples were likely expecting Jesus to send them away, and felt justified in doing so. After all, the crowd had already interrupted their already busy schedule, and the apostles wanted a respite after having gone into so many towns to preach and heal. But, along with welcoming yourself to interruption comes the willingness to become responsible. I can learn that love is a willingness to consider yourself the primary person that will take ownership over another. It is not to just look to someone else to resolve an issue or situation, or to step back for fear of more inconvenience and burden, but to stay faithful, and find a way to meet the need. As a person who naturally fears the burdens and messiness of trying to love another person, as it can become as unpredictable as the situation we see here in the text, I am challenged to again commit to a life of ownership over the people in my life–from the students I am reaching out to, the interns I am trying to love and train through their first year on ministry, to my fellow staff who are my co-laborers in Christ, to the people in our church who are currently suffering from tragedies, to my own family.

    What encourages me to commit to a life of interruption and ownership as I see here is the latter half of this event. After the disciples offer their meager morsels of food, they see Jesus give thanks, multiply their small offering, and the crowds are miraculously fed. What I can learn about love here is that in the context of ministry and doing God’s work, it is not a limited resource. I think that is what can explain much of my fear or reluctance to love another person. I believe I will run out of emotional energy, or my precious time, or just not have enough wisdom to really give that person “something to eat.” But as I see here, in trying to love this intimidating mass of people, the apostles end up seeing God using what they have to truly meet the need of each person in the crowd. In the same way, Jesus is charging me to give the people in my life those things to eat, but I do not do so by my own resources. There is the other half to look at–that He can multiply it, use it to plant seeds in other’s lives, and that in reality, it is God who ends up providing, not myself. I imagine the surprised delight as the apostles wandered about the crowd, fetching basketful after basketful of bread. At the start, they wanted to push away that responsibility of love, and now, they saw how God could more than meet the crowd’s need. As I think of again the number of people that fill my life, each having their burdens, issues, and the ways in which I can specifically encourage and love them, I commit my own five loaves and two fish to truly taking ownership over them, to open up my schedule, my heart to their interruption. Though at times I feel like the apostles, lacking the wherewithal to really love others, reluctant to try, in committing, I will only see God use in miraculous ways whatever I have to offer to bless others in my life.

    What are my five loaves and two fish?
    For the apostles, their 5 loaves and 2 fish represented what they already had with them. It was whatever they had happened to carry over to Bethsaida as Jesus brought them to withdraw from the crowds. For me, as I think about what I already do have, the five loaves and two fish I can offer up on a daily basis are my time, my emotional and mental energy, my hands and feet to do the work of ministry, as well as my financial resources. When I take a look at who I am and my limited competencies, I feel like the apostles that I can only give a meager offering. However, God is asking for what I already have, and I can offer them up in full trust that He can and will expand what I have to somehow bless others. Concretely, I can offer up my schedule to the constantly emerging needs that surround me from preparing and planning for my Life Group meetings, spending time talking to and encouraging those who are going through difficult times, to making relational connections to students. I can offer up the emotional, mental, and physical resources I have to thinking through on ministry issues, to planning for memorable and meaningful times for my interns, students, to evaluating the ministry we are doing, to praying intensely and intently for the wealth of needs that surround our church, to even faithfully setting up, taking down, cooking, giving rides, and carrying out small details that go into serving others.

    Luke 9:18-27
    “But what about you?” is the same question that Jesus asks of me today. Who is Jesus to me?
    Jesus to me is my Savior, much in the same way that Peter confesses here. He has saved me from my sins, away from that old life dominated by addictions, apathy, purposeless to a life where He is now LORD over each area of my life. He saved me from a life of following my desires, wants, and ambitions to a life of following His calling to love others in the same way He does here.

    What are the implications of my answer?
    The implications of my answer, that Jesus is my Savior, means that concretely my life is no longer mine. As He charges me to love others, so I have to offer up my five loaves and two fish. That means that my time, money, energy, resources are all to be of use to Him so He can continue to reach other people who need to know and experience the love of the Gospel. There is no “I” in terms of how I want to spend my time, as urgent or important my personal agenda can sometime seem. There is no “I” in terms of what I choose to buy or how I spend. Instead, all of my considerations now fall in the context of Jesus’ calling to love others. As I determined before how I wanted to spend my resources, so now that is dictated by the people and needs that abound around me.

    Another implication with Jesus as my Savior is that I no longer need to look to other things to save me. The world bombards me with notions, ideas, and images that it is a more carefree life that will save me. Or, with my season of life, it is making something of yourself, gaining the esteem and approval of others through social status, through being noticed and applauded, that will save me. Such things do have their pull and temptation on me. But, with Jesus as my Savior, I no longer have to give into this pull. I don’t have to listen to such voices or take heed of such images. Instead, I can trust that my life is best spent following Jesus. It means that the life Jesus has saved me to is what is meant for me, best for me. Even as the world tells me that I need to save myself–save my time, be less devoted, be less committed, make more of your life, spare the money I have, and always hoard for myself–I know that I have committed my life to Jesus. As seen earlier in this passage, only by fully committing and offering what I have to Jesus can I live out that confession of faith that Peter has made, and that I have to make each day.
    ————
    Submitted by Eugene P. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
    Luke 9:18-27
    “But what about you?” is the same question that Jesus asks of me today. Who is Jesus to me?
    Jesus is always interested in each person’s answer to this question, regardless of what others may have to say about Him. Peter’s response also reveals a different side of him that we do not see in the rest of the Gospel; that is, in contrast with the usual impatient, action-oriented Peter, Peter’s response reveals much thoughtfulness. He must have paused from time to time and pondered upon this question frequently before reaching his conclusion that was so different from the rest of the crowd. Indeed, this is one question in life that truly deserves our time and energy to ponder upon.

    Many years ago, I have struggled with my preconceived biases and wrestled with popular notions of Jesus’ identity to finally come to the same conclusion that Peter had: “You are the Christ of God! You are my Lord and Savior!” Since then, I have also realized that this is one question that I need to answer on a daily basis, or more accurately, a confession that I need to hold onto on a daily basis despite how the world wants to portray Jesus and my own sins/desires may seek to pull me from Him. So, today, my answer remains: “You are the Christ of God! You are my Lord and Savior!”

    What is the implication of my answer?
    When I claim that Jesus is the Christ of God and Savior, I affirm that He has come down to our world to save me from my sins. I acknowledge that I can’t do anything about my sin and I need to come to Him on a daily basis and seek forgiveness. Not only so, when I claim that Jesus is the Christ of God, I recognize that He is the One long foretold by God and sent by God. He alone knows how I ought to live my life for He is my Master and Lord. Therefore, I need to submit to His authority. On a daily basis, I find that my sinful self wants to reassert itself and I want to have control over my own life and pursue my desires. If I truly believe in my own confession of Jesus’ identity, I need to wrestle with my sins and desires to my confession a reality in my life.

    Luke 9:22-25
    Why did Jesus begin talking about the cross upon Peter’s confession?
    Jesus talks about the cross to show that what it looks like to follow Him. It makes sense to talk about it only after Peter has reached the conclusion that Jesus is the Christ. Now that Peter acknowledges that Jesus is his Christ and Lord, he is finally ready to hear what it is like to be a disciple of Christ.

    Jesus clearly commands those who made the same confession as Peter to follow him to the cross. How can Jesus be so confident to invite us to die with him?
    The exchange between Jesus and Peter is about Jesus as much as it is about Peter. That is, Jesus does not deny Peter’s confession in any way. In fact, Jesus simply accepts Peter’s confession as a matter of fact and He knows that He is the Christ of God. He is our Maker, and He is the way, the truth and the life. As He tells us to take up our cross and die with Him, He in fact wants us to experience this paradoxical truth in life, that is, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (vv.24-25)

    In our sinful nature, we think that the only way to preserve life is to preserve as much of our self as possible. As was the case with the demon-possessed man in our recent Mark 1 bible study, we want to respond to Jesus’ seemingly threatening invitation by crying, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:23-34) O we know who Jesus is – the Holy One of God, but we are not so sure about His way of life. We fear that He wants to destroy the life that we are familiar and comfortable with. I had found it scary to trust Jesus and denying myself simply because it was contrary to my upbringing. Yet, experientially, I have come to accept that when Jesus asks me to die with Him, He is not only destroying the life that I am familiar and comfortable with; He is really inviting me to truly live. I would not have the kind of abundant, blessed life that I have, if I did not trust in His teaching – the relationships that I have had, the experience of following Jesus in Berkeley and in mission fields and greater appreciation of God’s sovereignty through all the ups and downs. I think the second part is even more important – that is, to die to ourselves is to save our very self. Before I became a Christian, to be true to myself meant to follow my desires and to gain all that I wanted in this world. I remembered vividly how empty I felt in my pursuits. In contrast, the sense of identity and security that I have now – that is, despite what the world tells me, I know that I am a child of God and a follower of Christ – is something that I have gained as a result of denying myself.

    Going back to the question why Jesus can so confidently invite us to die with Him, I think Jesus knows how He wants to bless us and He knows that is the only way to live. The process requires dying to our selves, but the end result is greater abundance and true life. Our God is loving and good. He is confident because He knows that is the only way to live that kind of blessed life.

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