Life-Study of Lukeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that the Lord Jesus began His ministry in chapter four by proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord, by proclaiming the jubilee. After making that proclamation, He called certain ones to be His disciples, and of these He chose twelve to be His apostles. Then in 9:1-6 the Lord sent out the twelve to spread the jubilee. In this portion of the Gospel of Luke we have the spreading of the Man-Savior’s ministry through the twelve apostles.
The apostles went out to proclaim the kingdom of God. To proclaim the kingdom of God is to announce the jubilee. The feeding of the five thousand in 9:10-17 is also related to the jubilee. Luke’s account here indicates that in the jubilee there is no lack, no shortage. In the jubilee everyone is satisfied.
We need to be impressed with the fact that Luke wrote his Gospel from the viewpoint of the jubilee. The ministry of the Man-Savior began in chapter four with the proclamation of the jubilee. We need to keep this in mind as we read the following chapters of Luke. However, when many readers of this Gospel come to chapter nine, they may forget about the jubilee that was announced in chapter four. We should not make this mistake, but should keep the jubilee in mind as we read through chapters five through twenty-four. The concept of the jubilee announced in chapter four governs all the following chapters. Therefore, we should regard what is recorded in these chapters as part of the jubilee declared in Luke 4.
If we have this view as we read 9:10-17, we shall want to see how the Man-Savior handles the situation with the hungry multitude. In verse 13 we see that “there were about five thousand men.” If the women and children are counted, the number must have exceeded ten thousand. Suppose the Lord had dismissed the crowd without feeding them, allowing them to remain hungry. In that case there would not have been the jubilee. Some might have complained and said, “I have been here all day long, and now I am hungry. Why have we been dismissed? Where shall we go, and how shall we find food?” If this had taken place, there would have been famine instead of jubilee. But as a result of the Lord’s feeding the crowd, there was a real application of the jubilee. Everyone was satisfied, and there was an abundance of food left over.
In 9:12 the apostles said to the Lord, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and farms to lodge and find provisions.” But the Lord said to them, “You give them something to eat” (v. 13). The disciples asked the Lord to send the crowds away so that they could obtain food for themselves, but the Lord told the disciples to give the crowd something to eat. Their concept was to ask people to do something; this is the principle of the law. But the Lord’s concept is to give people something to enjoy; this is the principle of grace.
When the Lord told the twelve that they should give the crowd something to eat, they replied, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish among us” (v. 13). John 6:9 tells us that these five loaves are barley loaves. In figure, barley typifies the resurrected Christ (Lev. 23:10). Thus, the barley loaves signify Christ in resurrection as food to us. While the loaves are of the vegetable life, signifying the generating aspect of Christ’s life, the fish are of the animal life, signifying the redeeming aspect of Christ’s life. To satisfy our spiritual hunger, we need Christ’s generating life as well as His redeeming life. Both aspects of His life are symbolized by small items—loaves and fishes. This indicates that the Man-Savior has come to be small pieces of food to feed His followers.
Luke 9:16 says, “And taking the five loaves and the two fish, looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” The loaves were from the disciples, and they brought them to the Lord. After being blessed and broken by the Lord, they were given back to the disciples for distribution to the crowd, to whom the loaves became a great satisfaction. This indicates that the disciples were not the source of blessing; they were only the channels used by the Lord, who is the source of people’s satisfaction.
Luke 9:17 says, “And they ate and were all satisfied; and they took up that which was left over to them of broken pieces, twelve baskets.” This not only displayed the Man-Savior’s power of deity as the Creator, as the One who calls the things not being as being (Rom. 4:17), but also signified the bountiful and inexhaustible supply of His divine life (Eph. 3:8; Phil. 1:19). Furthermore, the twelve baskets of broken pieces indicate that the resurrected Christ is unlimited and inexhaustible, and also that the Lord’s provision for us is abundant, more than sufficient to meet all our need.
The ministry of the Man-Savior was a ministry of jubilee. Through the twelve He had begun to spread this ministry of jubilee. In the jubilee no one is poor; instead, everyone is filled and satisfied. In the jubilee there are no captives; on the contrary, all captives are released and brought back to the enjoyment of God. In the application of the jubilee in 9:12-17, the people might have been beside themselves with joy. Some of the disciples might have said, “This is the jubilee proclaimed by the Lord. Now no one is poor, but everyone is satisfied. Look, there are even twelve baskets left over!” What a picture of jubilee!
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