Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles, Herod Is Perplexed by Jesus, Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
by Matthew Kasowski
When properly observed, Lent is a time when we become keenly aware of the brokenness in ourselves and in our world. The passage today (Luke 9:1-17) consists of three short stories which at first glance seem unrelated but together speak powerfully into the brokenness we see in and around us. In the first story, Jesus sent out twelve penniless followers to ‘proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.’ In the second, Herod heard about what the twelve were doing and pondered what the source of the commotion was. In the third, the twelve returned to Jesus, a huge crowd gathered, and Jesus performed a well-known miracle to feed them.
When Jesus sent out the twelve, they were given two things: authority and power. They were to use this authority and power to mend both physical and spiritual brokenness; to cure sickness and to drive out demons. This authority and power was given so that they would ‘proclaim the Kingdom,’ i.e. spread the news that Jesus was the promised Messiah who would lead and save God’s people. Given the fact that the news of their actions made it to the earthly king Herod, the twelve were likely quite successful. But when the big crowd gathered, the authority and power of the twelve ran out. The people needed to be fed, but the twelve could not do it. They turned to King Jesus who could feed his people.
This very much mirrors our lives today as followers of Christ the King. Every Sunday we gather to be reminded that Christ mends our brokenness through his death on the cross. Then for the rest of the week, he sends us out with power and authority to mend a small part of the physical and spiritual brokenness of this world. Sometimes we see people’s bodies healed, or evidence of spiritual healing, or even professions of faith. Sometimes we see no visible fruit. But no matter the situation, our job is not to succeed on our own but to bring people to Christ. Often we do that best when we are most saddened by our own sin and weakness, and weary of the evil we see in the world around us. That is why every Sunday we return, bringing with us others weary in the journey or seeking eternal healing. We return to be reminded again that Jesus promises us an eternal Kingdom where He will reign as king and where physical and spiritual sickness will be no more. Then we are sent out again into a broken world with power and authority insufficient to fix the world, but sufficient to draw others to the one who can.
Father, give us a fresh infilling of your Holy Spirit. May our hearts overflow with love for you. You satisfy the thirsty and fill the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
“The man who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself ... Today there are many in the Church who act like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare ... You too must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts, do not try to be more generous than God.” ~Bernard of Clairvaux
Matthew Kasowski and his family arrived in Falls Church last summer to work with For The Nations DC, a ministry partner of The Falls Church Anglican that provides ESL and Bible classes primarily for refugees and asylum seekers. Before last summer, Matt and Jill Kasowski served as cross-cultural church planters among a Muslim minority in Asia.