He Took Them With Him and They Withdrew
A strange thing happens in Luke 9.
gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
There’s a lot to unpack there. Like how all power and authority comes from Jesus. And how that power and authority can cure diseases and drive out all demons (not just some demons, but all, huh!?). But that’s not the strange thing. At least in my mind.
What’s strange is what happens in verse 10. We can easily skip right over it, though, because a few verses later Jesus feeds the 5,000 (which was probably more like 15,000 or so, but that’s another story). Here’s what seems so strange to me:
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.
So the apostles return (note that Luke calls them apostles instead of disciples!), reporting to Jesus everything they’ve done, but immediately Jesus takes them away! By virtue of his power and authority, they have been successful, driving out demons and curing diseases. But instead of continuing their rather successful campaign, he takes them away!
And while it seems strange to me, this is Jesus’ regular pattern - to get away from the crowds. To retreat.
This January, both the Program Staff and then Staff & Session will take part in day retreats. Such retreats aren’t merely opportunities to get away from the normal activities of ministry and mission, though that’s part of it. What’s more, they are opportunities to re-engage the purpose of ministry and mission in the first place.
I can imagine that was part of the disciples’ retreat in Luke 9, too. Not merely to get away, but to get away in order to remember why they were driving out demons and curing diseases in the first place.
As God leads, would you pray for our Staff and Session as they retreat this month? Pray that we might rediscover the joy of His Kingdom, as we continue the ministry and mission those first disciples engaged.