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No Deserts Where Jesus Is

That holds for us, too. Luke 9.10-13

Luke 9 Part 1 (3)

Pray Psalm 107.35-38.
He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings.
There He makes the hungry dwell,
That they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
And sow fields and plant vineyards,
That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly;
And He does not let their cattle decrease.

Sing Psalm 107.33-38.
(Faithfulness: Great Is Thy Faithfulness)
You make the desert a river o’erflowing; You make a wasted life fruitful and strong!
You bless the hungry with fields for the sowing; bless and increase us who to You belong!
Refrain vv. 1-3
Lord, for Your wondrous works, and for Your steadfast love,
We give You thanks, we exalt Your great Name!
We who from east and west, north and south gather,
boldly redemption in Christ we proclaim!

Read Luke 9.1-13; meditate on verses 10-13.

1. Where were all these people assembled?

2. How did the disciples react to this? How did Jesus react?

Jesus loves deserts. Take away everything that might sustain Him, and He flourishes. Set some impossible task before Him in a place where resources are scant, and He performs a miracle.

No desert is truly a desert where Jesus is.

But then, that’s a matter of perspective. They were in a barren wilderness, like Israel, wandering in the desert for 40 years. The words, “deserted place” (v. 12), don’t quite capture the meaning of the Greek, ἐν ἐρήμῳ, en eremo, “in a wilderness”. This is how the disciples saw their surroundings, and, of course, they were correct. But they had seen Jesus calm a stormy sea. They assisted Him as He taught and healed “those who had need of healing” (v. 11). They should have known He would have some “manna” for these people about whom He cared so much, just as God had fed the multitudes in the wilderness of old.

Their idea was to send the people away to fend for themselves. Jesus’ plan was to continue caring for them and shaping His disciples for their callings. Resources were indeed scant (v. 13). But Jesus was still Jesus.

So when you find yourself struggling through a wilderness, desperate in a dry place, thirsting for something to strengthen your soul, look to Jesus. He can turn your wilderness into pools of refreshment and make springs of water abound in your dry land.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Jesus never missed an opportunity to teach! Ever. Everything He did was to show others how to do it. How to be filled with His Spirit, after He ascended to heaven, and how to carry on His work.

This teaching moment for the disciples should not have come as a surprise to them. He had recently bestowed upon them power and authority to journey through towns and cities preaching and healing. During this adventure they had had all their physical needs met – food, housing, clothing, etc. The lack of food in this wilderness setting should not have thrown them into a tizzy. Jesus commanded them to do this task because He knew they were able and capable, with His power, to do it. They had personally just been sustained in this very same way (Lk. 9.1-6). In fact, hadn’t they just returned from this experience; thus, they were being treated to this desert getaway? And having a serious memory lapse in the process.

But don’t we do the very same thing? We’re prepped. We’re ready. We are blessed daily with God’s sustaining grace and power, and then, poof! We forget that we are filled with His Holy Spirit.

We are schooled by the epitome of wisdom to:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3.5, 6). But do we?

Moses warned us to: “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life…” (Deut. 32.46, 47). If Moses said that directly to us, would we have believed him? Do we believe him now?

God told Joshua: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh. 1.8). God says these same words to us: do we believe Him?

Jesus said to one who questioned Him about the Law: “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22.37-40). He also teaches us this same truth through His Word: Do we believe Him enough to do what He says?

When Jesus said to the empowered disciples: “You give them something to eat” (Lk. 9.13), it was because He knew they could do it. When God tells us what to do in His Word, He knows that He has given us the power to do it (Acts 1.8). He knows that we can trust and obey Him. He knows we can follow His Law. He knows we can feed His sheep.

But do we believe Him? Or are we content to be dry and dusty wilderness-walkers? There is another option: As the disciples learned, we could offer our Personal Mission Field something a little more lush.

Jesus longs to teach us as He taught other learners in His day: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (Jn. 7.37, 38).

No deserts where Jesus is!

For reflection
1. What can keep us from believing that we can do what Jesus instructs us to do?

2. How can you tap into the refreshment Jesus can bring to your soul?

3. Whom will you encourage today in the Name of Jesus?

Hence we learn how wide is the difference between the knowledge of the goodness, and the knowledge of the power, of God. Power strikes men with terror, makes them fly from the presence of God, and drives them to a distance from him: but goodness draws them gently, and makes them feel that nothing is more desirable than to be united to God. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Luke 8.38

Pray Psalm 107.1-3
Praise and thank the Lord that He is good and merciful, that His redemption overcomes the power of our enemy, and that He has gathered you to Himself.

Sing Psalm 107.1-3.
(Faithfulness: Great Is Thy Faithfulness)
Lord, You are good, we give thanks and we praise You!
Your steadfast love will forever endure.
Let the redeemed, who from trouble You rescue,
gather and say that Your mercy is sure!
Refrain vv. 1-3
Lord, for Your wondrous works, and for Your steadfast love,
We give You thanks, we exalt Your great Name!
We who from east and west, north and south gather,
boldly redemption in Christ we proclaim!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

You can learn more about grace, what it is and how it operates in and through us, by ordering a free copy of our book, Grace for Your Time of Need (click here).

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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