Jesus and his disciples go to the north shore even as a crowd follows, but they pass unnoticed to a retreat alone. For a few blissful hours they have him all to themselves.
Then looking out on the thousands waiting to see him, his heart goes out to them. Though cheated of rest, he is not impatient. Leaving his retreat he finds a place where he can speak to them.
The people have come from miles around to hear him and to be healed–five thousand–only counting the men! (An actual 15-20,000?) The day seems to them like heaven has come to earth, and they don’t even realize that the whole day has passed with nothing to eat! They love listening to his words, so plain and simple about God’s love for them. Many of them have stood all day without thinking to sit down.
As the sun is sinking in the west, Jesus himself is tired and hungry, he becomes concerned for the people who had come great distances and have eaten nothing all day.
The disciples, seeing how pale he is, know he’s tired and urge him to send the people away so they can go to the nearby villages and find food.
“Let’s give them something to eat,” Jesus says, and then asks Philip, “Where can we buy bread so these people can eat?”
Philip looks over the crowd and replies, “It’s impossible. There’s no way to feed all of them!”
So Jesus shows that with God all things are possible.
Matthew 14:13-16, Mark 6:32-34, Luke 9:10-13, John 6:1-13
Jesus’ disciples were putting everything into their work for the people, and Jesus knows they are physically and mentally exhausted. So he teaches them to rest; that God requires mercy for ourselves, not sacrifice. He is compassionate and has tender care for all in His service.
Jesus’ life demonstrated his need for alone time with God. Here he released the discouragement that stalked him, and here he found comfort and joy. In the one life that was totally dependent on God, and lived completely for the good of others, there was necessity for hours of time alone with God.
His disciples must also learn that success and ability come from God. They continually need to depend on their relationship with Him because Satan takes advantage of human weakness, especially our desire to get credit. The false self continually seeks honor.
He doesn’t want us always under the stress of work–even good work and good stress. And when your work is for the spiritual welfare of others, it isn’t wise to be always at it. Self-denial is needed so your spiritual and physical health isn’t neglected, and the work of God ruined.
Jesus went into God’s presence until his humanity was charged with a divine current connecting man with God. His experience can be ours.
If we have more simplicity, more trust, more confidence in God we will not be disappointed. Each of us needs the experience of hearing God speaking individually to your heart. Sitting quietly before God, silence makes His voice clearer.
Isaiah 30:15, 32:17-18, 40:31, 50:4 Hebrews 4:16
The disciples return having so much to share with Jesus, but they can hardly get a few words in without someone interrupting. People are coming and going, bringing their sick ones for healing; there isn’t even a chance to eat!
Jesus desires time alone with them, and suggests they go up to the uninhabited northern shore of the lake for much-needed R&R. It is spring and this deserted area is green and blooming, offering restful change from the crowds and city. Here they can be alone and can share everything they are bursting to tell him.
Their intimate relationship with Jesus enables them to share failure and success. They are awed and excited that demons obeyed and left in Jesus name, that they had power over death and illness. They share their stories and ask him questions.
He is eager to hear their mistakes and weaknesses as well as their joys. He knows they need instruction and rest.
John’s disciples have joined Jesus also. During John’s life they had sided with the Pharisees, but now they have come to him needing comfort and understanding, and time alone with Jesus.
He wants them all to know that they must take time to relax and reflect. He models that their strength is not in themselves but in God, and they must have regular times of meditation and prayer.
Even Jesus’ correction revitalizes them with hope and courage! He builds people up, instructing his disciples and sharing how best to reach people, filling all with hope and courage.
Matthew 14:1,2, Mark 6:30-32, Luke 9:7-10
Raise the dead? the disciples must have questioned!
Us? cast out demons? Surely you jest.
But the disciples, even though still rough around the edges and still learning, know Jesus well enough to know when he is playing and when he isn’t. So they divvy up the towns and leave.
With every dusty step, they rehearse Jesus’ words, and remember especially the way he talked to people. Imagine their conversation:
“If we remember how Jesus does it, we can do this, right? He said we would be opposed by the kingdom of darkness!”
“But he also said all heavenly intelligence would support us, not to be afraid.”
“Yeah, he said, ‘Start the day with God, and you will have words when you need them. Don’t doubt. God understands your weakness’.”
“Even if we mess up?”
They have watched Jesus do battle, and marveled at his composure. How direct he was, and yet gentle when provoked by the teachers of the law.
The anger and accusations of church leaders were obviously sparked by the dark side. That had been so hard to understand at first. They had been raised to reverence their leaders, believing God was like them–severe and critical.
But Jesus, though always truthful, was also kind. He never needlessly spoke a hard word. Even when hard words were needed, they could hear tears in his voice.
He worked to lift man to be true to himself, and calls us to that work.
Satan brings doubt, but God’s people need not fear man or Satan.
Matthew 10, Mark 6:7-12, Luke 9:1-6
Jesus knows his disciples need some solo hours in their life’s work as his representatives. Up until now they have just been watching, assisting wherever they can. Going out on their own will give them experience for the future, while he is here to counsel and correct.
His instruction is simple: “Preach ‘The kingdom of heaven is here’; heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, raise the dead. Give as freely as you have received.”
So he sends them out friend with friend, brother with brother. Nobody is sent alone.
Jesus has modeled to rely on Scripture more than tradition. This will be difficult, but the experience will show them their need of God-dependence. And they will have each other for encouragement, balancing their weaknesses.
He tells them not to argue about whether he is the Messiah or not. He says, “Don’t wear anything special, don’t take anything with you, accept the hospitality offered to you.” He tells them to go where they are welcome, where he has already been, paving the way for them.
He has been like a current of energy, diffusing life and joy wherever he went. Jesus spent more time healing than he did teaching. Hearts had been awakened to their need and were ready to respond.
Just like them, God calls us to show His true heart and character to others, feeding, clothing, comforting, and infusing the hopeless with hope. Hearts that harden under correction, will melt under love. Through us God desires to be known as The Comforter.*
Luke 9:1-6, Matthew 10, Mark 6:7-11 *Isaiah 58:8, 40:1
Just then someone from Jairus’s house approaches. Jairus pales as he gets the message, “Your daughter has died. Don’t bother Jesus to come.”
Jesus hears and reassures him, “Don’t be afraid, just believe, and she will be all right.” He picks up the pace for him.
Jairus has just seen someone healed by touching Jesus, he is faced with the choice to believe Jesus or give into fear and despair. With the stakes so high he presses closer to Jesus.
They soon arrive; the customary hired mourners have already begun their wailing to the mournful notes of flutes. Jesus cringes, saying, “Why are you carrying on like this? The girl is not dead but asleep.”
They are shocked at his seeming insensitivity, they know she is dead and nervously scoff and laugh at him.
With authority in his voice he requires, “Leave here at once.”
He leads her parents and Peter, James, and John into the girl’s room. Taking the dead girl’s hand, he speaks softly, “Little girl, I say to you arise.”
A tremor passes through as her breath returns. Her lips smile and her eyes open as if from sleep, and the twelve-year-old looks wonderingly at the group around her bed. She sits up as her mother and father reach to hold her and weep for joy.
“Give her some food,” says Jesus before leaving. “And by the way keep this to yourselves.” He knows what a problem this will make for the church leaders–and then for him.
Luke 8:49-56, Mark 5:35-43, Matthew 9:23-25
Peter and the others can’t believe Jesus has stopped. Jairus is impatient and nervous.
“I felt healing power leave me,” explains Jesus, “somebody touched me with purpose.”
The woman, joyfully realizing her healing, is trying to slip away, grateful and content. But seeing it isn’t possible, she comes forward tearfully telling the story of how she has suffered and hoped for healing.
Jesus gives her the moment with Him she has longed for. He also wants to stop and teach everyone that faith is a transaction: our belief in God’s goodness accesses His power, it wasn’t magic in his person or clothes.
Our expression of His goodness is God’s chosen way to reveal himself to our world.
Our praise is almost irresistible. He continually pours out blessings on us, and sends angels to protect us, but we mostly take all the goodness in life for granted, missing opportunities for gratitude that would help us and those around us. God desires our praise to be personalized with our individuality.
Keeping a Remembrance journal–writing the things God does for us–would train our brains to be happier–more positive–and keep our hearts softer to recognize more love. (It takes ten to thirty seconds to anchor a feeling or thought and hardwire it. Bad things get more time easily.)
Jesus takes the time to hardwire this woman’s healing, “Daughter, your faith healed you, go in peace.”
True faith brings healing, vigor and confidence to it’s possessor. Ingratitude and mindlessness harden our hearts (minds) into negative patterns.
Mark 5:30-34, Luke 8:45-48, Matthew 9:22
Crowds await Jesus on the other side of the lake. Graciously he spends the afternoon talking with them and healing their sick. Then he heads to Matthew’s for a special dinner.
The ruler of the synagogue desperately goes to Matthew’s after dinner, saying, “Please come and touch my daughter. She is dying.”
Immediately Jesus leaves with him.
The disciples are surprised at Jesus’ willingness; Jairus has been disdainful towards Jesus. They and others follow.
Because of the crowd they move slowly and Jesus stops now and again to relieve suffering.
A woman who has suffered hemorrhaging for twelve years is outside Matthew’s house hoping to see Jesus.
She has spent all her money on doctors, only to be told she’s incurable. When she heard of Jesus’ miracles, she felt she had to find him. Believing he would heal her, she had struggled to the lakeside, trying to reach him, but she couldn’t get close enough to ask.
She heard he would be at Matthew’s, so goes there, but can’t get to him this time either. Then suddenly, here He comes through the crowd! Instantly Spirit prompts, and she thinks If I just touch his clothes, I’ll be well. She presses forward and reaches out as he passes, the faith of her whole life focuses in that one effort.
She does it! She touches his robe! Instantly pain and weakness leave her body!
Jesus stops. Jairus is anxious.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asks.
Peter is incredulous. “‘Who touched me?’ Master, everyone is touching you, what do you mean ?”
Luke 8:40-44, Matthew 9:18-22, Mark 5:21-30
The people of Gadara were engrossed in materialism–not interested in spiritual life. Jesus permitted the loss as a merciful way to refocus them, but fear has them now, and they ask Jesus to leave.
He understands. Loss, fear and the supernatural create superstition.
As he walks to the boat, the two healed men beg to go. They desperately want to be with him, knowing they are safe in His presence.
But Jesus sends them home. He knows their fear, but he also knows that in telling what He did for them they will be safe and grow strong.
They had only a few minutes in His presence, only heard a few words, but they tell their experience to anyone who will listen. They go all over their country of Decapolis.
Anyone can share their spiritual gratitude, it keeps you safe in Jesus’ presence, and is effective.
When Jesus came back, thousands flocked to him for three days, proving that evil can be used for good.*
To Decapolis and the universe, Satan is revealed as the destroyer.** His will for people ruins body, mind, and spirit, inciting us to selfishness, self-pity, evil, and violence. Satan had planned to turn the people away from Jesus by destroying the pigs.
But Jesus shows that no one is so ruined that they can’t be restored to sanity and used by Him. Gadara needed a tutorial on priorities.
He doesn’t want you afraid of Satan’s plans either,*** even if it costs you 2,000 pigs.
Luke 8:35-39, Mark 5:15-20, Matthew 8:34, Hebrews 2:14, *Romans 8:28 , **Exodus 12:23, Hebrews 2:14 *** 2Timothy 1:7, James 4:7
Dawn breaks as Jesus and his friends reach the other side of the lake. Sunrise kisses water and land with peace.
They step onto land and the peace shatters. More scary than storms, two demon-possessed men rush at them.* Fragments of broken chains hang about them, their skin bleeding from cutting themselves, their eyes glaring behind long, matted hair.
The disciples scatter in terror, looking back to see Jesus right where they left him.
The two men approach him grinding their teeth, but Jesus raises his hand and they stop, helpless though raging.
“Leave them!” Jesus says with authority.
A demon speaks, “What do you want with me, Son of the Most High God? Don’t torment us before it’s time.” The men fall at his feet, realizing here is one who can help, but they are powerless to ask.
“What is your name?” Jesus asks.
“Legion, for we are many,” came the reply. “Don’t send us from the country, allow us to go into the pigs over there.” Not far away was a herd of pigs feeding.
Jesus allows, and immediately the herd panics, runs over the cliff, down the mountainside into the lake, and drowns.
Their keepers run to the owners with their report, telling everyone they see. The whole town comes out in fear and finds sane, clothed men listening to Jesus where terrifying crazies used to be.
Frightened, they beg Jesus to leave and he does. He knows they are blinded by their loss, and immediately prepares to leave.
Matthew 8: 28-34, Luke 8:26-37, Mark 5: 1-17 *Matthew remembers two demoniacs, Peter remembers one. Otherwise their descriptions are very similar. Memory is subjective, so we went with the account’s number.