Luke 9:10
And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10-17) And the apostles, when they were returned.—See Notes on Matthew 14:13-21, and Mark 6:30-44.

Luke

BREAD FROM HEAVEN

Luke 9:10 - Luke 9:17
.

The Apostles needed rest after their trial trip as evangelists. John the Baptist’s death had just been told to Christ. The Passover was at hand, and many pilgrims were on the march. Prudence and care for His followers as well as Himself suggested a brief retirement, and our Lord sought it at the Eastern Bethsaida, a couple of miles up the Jordan from its point of entrance to the lake. Matthew and Mark tell us that He went by boat, which Luke does not seem to have known. Mark adds that the curious crowd, which followed on foot, reached the place of landing before Him, and so effectually destroyed all hope of retirement. It was a short walk round the north-western part of the head of the lake, and the boat would be in sight all the way, so that there was no escape for its passengers.

Luke records the self-oblivious cordiality of Christ’s reception of the intrusive crowd. Without a sigh or sign of impatience, He ‘welcomed them’-a difficult thing to do, and one which few of us could have achieved. The motives of most of them can have been nothing higher than what leads vulgar people of all ranks and countries to buzz about distinguished men, utterly regardless of delicacy or considerateness. They want to see the notoriety, no matter what it costs him. But Jesus received them patiently, because, as Mark touchingly tells, He was ‘moved with pity,’ and saw in their rude crowding round Him the token of their lack of guides and teachers. They seemed to Him, not merely a mob of intrusive sight-seers, but like a huddled mass of unshepherded sheep.

Christ’s heart felt more lovingly than ours because His eye saw deeper, and His eye saw deeper because His heart felt more lovingly. If we would live nearer Him, we should see, as He did, enough in every man to draw our pity and help, even though he may jostle and interfere with us.

The short journey to Bethsaida would be in the early morning, and a long day of toil followed instead of the hoped-for quiet. Note that singular expression, ‘Them that had need of healing He healed.’ Why not simply ‘them that were sick’? Probably to bring out the thought that misery made unfailing appeal to Him, and that for Him to see need was to supply it. His swift compassion, His all-sufficient power to heal, and the conditions of receiving His healing, are all wrapped up in the words. Coming to the miracle itself, we may throw the narrative into three parts-the preliminaries, the miracle, and the abundant overplus.

I. Our Lord leads up to the miracle by forcing home on the minds of the disciples the extent of the need and the utter inadequacy of their resources to meet it, and by calling on them and the crowd for an act of obedience which must have seemed to many of them ludicrous.

John shows us that He had begun to prepare them, at the moment of meeting the multitude, by His question to Philip. That had been simmering in the disciples’ minds all day, while they leisurely watched Him toiling in word and work, and now they come with their solution of the difficulty. Their suggestion was a very sensible one in the circumstances, and they are not to be blamed for not anticipating a miracle as the way out. However many miracles they saw, they never seem to have expected another. That has been thought to be unnatural, but surely it is true to nature. They moved in a confusing mixture of the miraculous and the natural which baffled calculation as to which element would rule at any given moment. Their faith was feeble, and Christ rebuked them for their slowness to learn the lesson of this very miracle and its twin feeding of the four thousand. They were our true brothers in their failure to grasp the full meaning of the past, and to trust His power.

The strange suggestion that the disciples should feed the crowd must have appeared to them absurd, but it was meant to bring out the clear recognition of the smallness of their supply. Therein lie great lessons. Commands are given and apparent duties laid on us, in order that we may find out how impotent we are to do them. It can never be our duty to do what we cannot do, but it is often our duty to attempt tasks to which we are conspicuously inadequate, in the confidence that He who gives them has laid them on us to drive us to Himself, and there to find sufficiency. The best preparation of His servants for their work in the world is the discovery that their own stores are small. Those who have learned that it is their task to feed the multitude, and who have said ‘We have no more than such and such scanty resources,’ are prepared to be the distributors of His all-sufficient supply.

What a strange scene that must have been as the hundred groups of fifty each arranged themselves on the green grass, in the setting sunlight, waiting for a meal of which there were no signs! It took a good deal of faith to seat the crowd, and some faith for the crowd to sit. How expectant they would be! How they would wonder what was to be done next! How some of them would laugh, and some sneer, and all watch the event! We, too, have to put ourselves in the attitude to receive gifts of which sense sees no sign; and if, in obedience to Christ’s word, we sit down expecting Him to find the food, we shall not be disappointed, though the table be spread in the wilderness, and neither storehouse nor kitchen be in sight.

II. The miracle itself has some singular features.

Like that of the draught of fishes, it was not called forth by the cry of suffering, nor was the need which it met one beyond the reach of ordinary means. It was certainly one of the miracles most plainly meant to strike the popular mind, and the enthusiasm excited by it, according to John’s account, was foreseen by Christ. Why did He evoke enthusiasm which He did not mean to gratify? For the very purpose of bringing the carnal expectations of the crowd to a head, that they might be the more conclusively disappointed. The miracle and its sequel sifted and sent away many ‘disciples,’ and were meant to do so.

All the accounts tell of Christ’s ‘blessing.’ Matthew and Mark do not say what He blessed, and perhaps the best supplement is ‘God,’ but Luke says that He blessed the food. What He blesses is blessed; for His words are deeds, and communicate the blessing which they speak. The point at which the miraculous multiplication of the food came in is left undetermined, but perhaps the difference in the tenses of the verbs hints at it. ‘Blessed’ and ‘brake’ are in the tense which describes a single act; ‘gave’ is in that which describes a continuous repeated action. The pieces grew under His touch, and the disciples always found His hands full when they came back with their own empty. But wherever the miraculous element appeared, creative power was exercised by Jesus; and none the less was it creative, because there was the ‘substratum’ of the loaves and fishes. Too much stress has been laid on their being used, and some commentators have spoken as if without them the miracle could not have been wrought. But surely the distinction between pure creation and multiplication of a thing already existing vanishes when a loaf is ‘multiplied’ so as to feed a thousand men.

The symbolical aspect of the miracle is set forth in the great discourse which follows it in John’s Gospel. Jesus is the ‘Bread of God which came down from heaven.’ That Bread is broken for us. Not in His Incarnation alone, but in His Death, is He the food of the world; and we have not only to ‘eat His flesh,’ but to ‘drink His blood,’ if we would live. Nor can we lose sight of the symbol of His servants’ task. They are the distributors of the heaven-sent bread. If they will but take their poor stores to Jesus, with the acknowledgment of their insufficiency, He will turn them into inexhaustible supplies, and they will find that ‘there is that scattereth, and yet increaseth.’ What Christ blesses is always enough.

III. The abundance left over is significant.

Twelve baskets, such as poor travellers carried their belongings in, were filled; that is to say, each Apostle who had helped to feed the hungry had a basketful to bring off for future wants. The ‘broken pieces’ were not crumbs that littered the grass, but the portions that came from Christ’s hands.

His provision is more than enough for a hungry world, and they who share it out among their fellows have their own possession of it increased. There is no surer way to receive the full sweetness and blessing of the Gospel than to carry it to some hungry soul. These full baskets teach us, too, that In Christ’s gift of Himself as the Bread of Life there is ever more than at any given moment we can appropriate. The Christian’s spiritual experiences have ever an element of infinity in them; and we feel that if we were able to take in more, there would be more for us to take. Other food cloys and does not satisfy, and leaves us starving. Christ satisfies and does not cloy, and we have always remaining, yet to be enjoyed, the boundless stores which neither eternity will age nor a universe feeding on them consume. The Christian’s capacity of partaking of Christ grows with what it feeds on, and he alone is safe in believing that ‘To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.’Luke 9:10-17. And the apostles being returned, told him all that they had done — See notes on Matthew 14:13-21; and Mark 6:30-44, where this whole paragraph is largely explained.9:10-17 The people followed Jesus, and though they came unseasonably, yet he gave them what they came for. He spake unto them of the kingdom of God. He healed those who had need of healing. And with five loaves of bread and two fishes, Christ fed five thousand men. He will not see those that fear him, and serve him faithfully, want any good thing. When we receive creature-comforts, we must acknowledge that we receive them from God, and that we are unworthy to receive them; that we owe them all, and all the comfort we have in them, to the mediation of Christ, by whom the curse is taken away. The blessing of Christ will make a little go a great way. He fills every hungry soul, abundantly satisfies it with the goodness of his house. Here were fragments taken up: in our Father's house there is bread enough, and to spare. We are not straitened, nor stinted in Christ.See the Matthew 14:13-21 notes, and Mark 6:30-44 notes.

Luke 9:10

Bethsaida - A city on the east bank of the river Jordan, near where the river enters into the Sea of Tiberias. In the neighborhood of that city were extensive wastes or deserts.

Lu 9:10-17. On the Return of the Twelve Jesus Retires with Them to Bethsaida, and There Miraculously Feeds Five Thousand.

(See on [1608]Mr 6:31-44).

Ver. 10,11. The evangelists give us but a summary account of things. We read of the mission, or sending out, of the apostles, Luke 9:1. Here we read of their return, and giving their Lord an account of their discharge of the trust he had reposed in them. Being returned, our Saviour goeth with them into a place near Bethsaida, not much inhabited, and therefore called desert. He never wanted followers, nor a heart to receive them, and to take all opportunities to do them good. Many followed him; he receiveth them, and preacheth to them for the good of their souls, and healeth those amongst them that were sick, to teach us to join spiritual with bodily, and bodily with spiritual, alms. Spiritual alms, such as instruction, reproof, counsel, are as much better than those that relieve only bodily wants, as the soul is better than the body. Spiritual alms, without bodily relief, from such as are able to give them, are fittest for spiritual persons; carnal, ignorant people, that have no sense of spiritual things, must, like children, be allured into a good opinion of the things and ways of God by some bodily charity, and so taken by guile, and enticed to the knowledge of God. And the apostles, when they were returned,.... From the several parts of the land where they had been sent, and had been preaching and working miracles, having gone through their circuit, and finished the service they were sent to do:

told him all they had done; what doctrines they had taught, how they had been received, and what success they met with, what miracles they had wrought, how they had dispossessed devils, and healed all sorts of diseases:

and he took them and went aside privately; by ship, over some part of the sea of Galilee; See Gill on Mark 6:32.

into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida; the city of Andrew and Peter, John 1:44, and which, as Josephus (r) says, was by the lake of Gennesaret, and by Philip called Julias; and this desert place was the desert of Bethsaida, a lonely, wild, uncultivated, and desolate place, not far from it. Hither Christ went with his disciples, that they might be retired and alone, and have some refreshment and rest from their labours, and where they might privately converse together; and he give them some fresh instructions, and directions, and comfort.

(r) Antiqu. l. 18. c. 3.

{3} And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a {c} desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

(3) They that follow Christ will lack nothing, not even in the wilderness.

(c) The word signifies a desert: note, this was not in the town Bethsaida, but part of the fields belonging to the town.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 9:10-17. See on Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; John 6:1 ff. According to the reading εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσ. (see the critical remarks), εἰς is to be understood of the direction whither (versus), and Luke 9:11 ff. is to be conceived as said of what happened on the way to Bethsaida. The Bethsaida meant at Mark 6:45, on the western shore of the lake (Βηθσ. τῆς Γαλιλ., John 12:21; Matthew 11:21), is not the one intended, but Bethsaida-Julias, on the eastern shore in lower Gaulonitis (see on Mark 8:22), as Michaelis, Fischer, Paulus, Robinson, Ebrard, Lange, Ewald, Schegg, and others suppose, on the ground of Mark 6:45, where from the place of the miraculous feeding the passage is made across to the western Bethsaida. For the denial of this assumption, and for the maintenance of the view that Luke, in variation from the parallel passages, transposed the miraculous feeding to the western shore (Winer, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Holtzmann, Eichthal, and with some hesitation Bleek), there is no foundation at all in Luke’s text. For although Jesus had returned from Gadara to the western side of the lake (Luke 8:37; Luke 8:40), yet between this point of time and the miraculous feeding come the sending forth of the Twelve, and the period that elapsed until their return (Luke 9:1-10). Where they, on their return, met with Jesus, Luke does not say, and for this meeting the locality may be assumed to have been the eastern side of the lake where Bethsaida-Julias was situated. But if it is supposed, as is certainly more natural, that they met with Him again at the place whence they had been sent forth by Him on the western border of the lake, it is no contradiction of this that Jesus, according to Luke, wished to retire with His disciples by the country road to that Bethsaida which was situated at the north-eastern point of the lake (Bethsaida-Julias); and it is just this seeking for solitude which can alone be urged in favour of the more remote Bethsaida on the further side. The whole difference therefore comes to this, that, according to Luke, they went to the place of the miraculous feeding by land, but according to Mark (and Matthew), by ship.

Luke 9:11. ἀποδεξ.] He did not send them back, although He desired to be alone, but received them.

ἐπισιτισμόν] Provisions, a word which occurs only in this place in the New Testament, but is often found in the classical writers. Comp. Jdt 2:18; Jdt 4:5.

Luke 9:13. πλεῖον ἤ] These words do not fit into the construction. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 410; Krüger, ad Dion. p. 287; Schoemann, ad Is. p. 444.

εἰ μήτι κ.τ.λ.] unless, perchance, etc.; this is neither to be regarded as a direct question (Kypke, Rosenmüller), nor is the thought: “even therewith we cannot feed them,” to be previously supplied (Beza, Grotius, de Wette, and others). On the contrary, the two parts of the sentence are closely connected: We have not more than … unless, perchance, we shall have bought. The tone of the address is not one of irony (Camerarius, Homberg, Kuinoel), as is often expressed by εἰ μή (Kühner, II. p. 561; Maetzner, ad Lycurg. in Leocr. p. 317), but of embarrassment at the manifest impossibility of carrying the order into effect (ἡμεῖςεἰς πάντα τὸν λαόν). On εἰ with a subjunctive, which is to be recognised even in the Attic writers, although rarely, but is of frequent use in the later Greek, see Winer, p. 263 [E. T. 368]; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 12; Poppo, ad Cyrop. iii. 3. 50; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 500 ff.; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 491. Winer is mistaken in regarding the mood in this case as a deliberative subjunctive not dependent on εἰ, as Buttmann, p. 191 [E. T. 221], also takes it. See above for the connection; and on the difference of meaning between the subjunctive with and without ἄν (condition absolutely, without dependence upon circumstances that may or may not happen), see Hermann, De part. ἄν, ii. 7, p. 95; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 301.

ἡμεῖς] with emphasis; for previously they had advised to leave the people themselves to procure food.

Luke 9:14. Observe the numerical relation, five loaves, five thousand, ranks of companies by fifty. To form such companies is, in Luke, said to have been commanded even by Jesus Himself. The tradition is gradually rounded into shape as we advance from Matthew (and John) to Luke.

Luke 9:16. εὐλόγ. αὐτούς] an intimation of the benediction uttered in prayer, which was effectual in causing the increase. Matthew and Mark have it otherwise.

Luke 9:17. κλασμάτων] is, in accordance with the opinion of Valckenaer, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, to be regarded as governed by κόφινοι δώδεκα. If, in accordance with the usual view, it had been construed with τὸ περισσ. αὐτ., it would have been τῶν κλασμ. (comp. Matthew 14:20; Soph. El. 1280: τὰ μὲν περισσεύοντα τῶν λόγων ἄφες; Plat. Legg. ix. p. 855 A) or τὰ περισσεύσαντα αὐτοῖς κλάσματα (John 6:12). Luke reproduces the κλασμάτων δώδεκα κοφίνους of Mark. Since, moreover, κλασμάτων contains a reference to κατέκλασε, Luke 9:16, it is manifest that the fanciful view of Lange, L. J. II. p. 309 f., is untenable: that Jesus, indeed, miraculously fed the thousands; but that the superfluity arose from the fact that the people, disposed by the love of Jesus to brotherly feeling, had immediately laid open their own stores. Thus the miraculous character of the transaction is combined with the natural explanation of Paulus and Ammon. With what a unanimous untruthfulness must in this case all the four reporters of the history have been silent about the people’s private stores. Just as persistent are they in their silence about the symbolic nature of the feeding behind which the marvellous How of the incident is put out of sight (Weizsäcker). Schenkel mingles together most discordant elements for explaining away the miracle, not rejecting even provisions brought with them, and in part procured in haste. But what is the meaning of Mark 8:18-20? And are all six narratives equally a misunderstanding?Luke 9:10-17. Feeding of the multitude (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, John 6:1-14).10-17. The Feeding of the Five Thousand.

10
. told him all that they had done] This brief and meagre record, to which nothing is added by the other Evangelists, contrasts so strongly with the joyous exultation of the Seventy over their success, that we are led to infer that the training of the Twelve was as yet imperfect, and their mission less successful than the subsequent one.

went aside privately] The reasons—beside the natural need of the Twelve and of our Lord for rest—were (1) the incessant interruptions from the multitude, which left them no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:31), and (2) (as we see from the context) the news of the murder of John the Baptist and Herod’s enquiries about Jesus. Perhaps we may add (3) the desire to keep in retirement the Paschal Feast which He could not now keep at Jerusalem. This event constitutes another new departure in the ministry of Christ.

into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida] There are here great variations in the MSS. and the best reading is to a city called Bethsaida. The omission may be due to the fact that there was nothing approaching to “a desert place” corresponding to this description near the only Bethsaida which was well known to the copyists, viz. the little fishing suburb of Capernaum on the west of the lake (Bethsaida of Galilee, John 12:21), Mark 6:45. This may also explain the variation of ‘village’ for ‘city.’ It is only in recent times that we have been made familiar with the existence of the other Bethsaida— Bethsaida Julias (Mark 8:22), at the north of the lake, another

‘House of Fish’ which had been recently beautified by Herod Philip (Luke 3:1) and named by him after the beautiful but profligate daughter of Augustus, Jos. Antt. xviii. 2, § I; B. J. 11. § 1. The ruins of this town still exist at Telui (a corruption of Julias), and close by it is the green, narrow, secluded plain of El Batihah, which exactly meets the description of the Evangelists. This important discovery, which explains several serious difficulties of this Gospel, is due to Reland (Palaest. p. 504), and shews us how easily difficulties would be removed if we knew all the facts.Verses 10-17. - The Lord feeds the five thousand. Verse 10. - And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. This, perhaps the most famous and oftenest told of the Lord's miracles, was worked directly after the return of the twelve from their mission. He and they were no doubt very weary of the crowds which continually now thronged them. The excitement of the multitude about Jesus was now at its height. Directly after the discourse at Capernaum (John 6.), which immediately followed the great miracle we are about to discuss, the popular enthusiasm began to wane. Intensely weary, dispirited too at the story of the murder of John the Baptist, which was told the Master by the disciples and the friends of John on their return from their mission, Jesus determined for a brief space to withdraw himself from the public gaze. He crossed the Lake of Gennesaret in one of his friends' fishing-boats to a town lately identified by modern research as Bethsaida Julias, a small city recently beautified by Herod Philip, and named Bethsaida Julias, after the daughter of Augustus. Bethsaida, "house of fish," was a name attached evidently to several of these fishing centres on the shores of the lake. Many of the multitude of whom we read subsequently in the account of the miracle, had watched his departure in the boat for the neighbourhood of Bethsaida Julias, and had gone on foot round the head of the lake to join the popular Teacher again. The distance round the north end of the lake from the point of embarkation, most likely Capernaum, to Bethsaida Julias is not very considerable. The crowd which soon joined him in retirement would be considerably swelled by many of the Passover pilgrims just arrived at Capernaum on their way to Jerusalem to keep the feast. These would be anxious, too, to see and to hear the great Galilaean Prophet, whose name just then was in every mouth. Not very far from Bethsaida Julias there is a secluded plain, El Batihah; thither Jesus no doubt went after leaving his fishing-boat, purposing to spend some time in perfect rest. Soon, however, the usually quiet plain becomes populous with the crowds following after the Galilaean Master. Though longing intensely for repose so necessary for himself and his disciples, he at once, moved by the eagerness of the multitude to hear and see him again, gives them his usual loving welcome, and begins in his old fashion to teach them many things, and to heal their sick. Declared (διηγήσαντο)

Related everything throughout (διά). See on Luke 8:39; and Luke 1:1.

Bethsaida

Peculiar to Luke. It means Fishing-place.

Healed (ἰᾶτο) them that had need of healing (θεραπείας)

See on Luke 5:15.

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