“When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” Luke 9.10-11
The disciples had just returned from their first evangelism mission. Previously in this chapter, Jesus sent them out, two by two, healing diseases, casting out demons, proclaiming the kingdom. They went from “village to village” doing the work of ministry.
Yet for how long? Long enough for the Jewish rulers, including Herod, to ask about their work. They didn’t just hop in their Chevy truck and hit a half dozen towns in one day. These guys were on foot, walking to villages, having conversations with anyone who would stop. Healing anyone who needed healing, speaking to all about the kingdom of God.
This is why they had been trained. They had been discipled by Jesus, observed his miracles and ministry, and had been given authority to do similar works. So Jesus sent them out for what I’m guessing is a few weeks or perhaps even a month. This is where v.11 of our text pics up, “When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done.”
What then? They were apparently successful in their ministry outting. Seeing much fruit in their labor. Then Jesus, “he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethesda.” Jesus knew they needed rest. We all need rest. We all need to sleep, recover our strength, and fuel up for the next task ahead.
Before they could rest for long, more people discovered where they were, went to them and Jesus, being Jesus, “welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” Jesus repeated exactly what he had sent his disciples out to do.
Many thoughts come to mind as I read this passage. First, Jesus‘ mission was clear and concise — tell them about God’s kingdom and meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Second, Jesus modeled what he taught. Third, after the work was complete, they rested.
As Christians and ministers of the Gospel it would do us well to remember these three specific actions of Jesus. We get overly complicated in our programming, detailed in our planning and convoluted in our theology. Jesus keep it plain and simple. Teaching, healing, hospitality and rest.
Can we do the same?
“O Lord God, thank you for empowering the work of your people. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit ahead of us to guide, lead, build and proclaim. Thank you for helping us preach and teach about your kingdom so others might do the same. Thank you for capturing us with your love and helping us know the truth of your message. I praise you Lord for your faithfulness and your grace. I love you for saving us upon the Cross. Come now, Holy Spirit, and help us walk in your ways. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen