Luke 9:11

ESV When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.
NIV but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
NASB But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and He welcomed them and began speaking to them about the kingdom of God, and curing those who had need of healing.
CSB When the crowds found out, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
NLT But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.
KJV And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.

What does Luke 9:11 mean?

Luke's account is subdued. The success of the disciples' ministry (Luke 9:1–9) made them immensely popular. When they entered the boat, people from the shore saw them and ran ahead along the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The group of runners grew as they went. A large crowd was already waiting for the boat when it reached Bethsaida, and Jesus immediately had compassion on the crowd (Mark 6:31–34).

Jesus had been intentional about withdrawing from the crowds (Luke 9:10; Mark 6:31–32). This was not the first time ministry to people had impeded the ability for Jesus and the disciples to eat (Mark 3:20; 6:31). They had gone to a desolate place for rest. But Jesus has compassion on the crowd that has come to meet them (Mark 6:34). Not only does He teach them about the kingdom of God and heal those in need of it, Jesus feeds the crowd, in large part as an object lesson about faith for the disciples. The people who experience the miracle see an opportunity to have a king who will provide for their physical needs (John 6:15, 25–26).

This interaction raises many questions. Did Jesus know His plan would be thwarted? If so, we may wonder why He tried. If He did not know, does that mean He was not omniscient during His incarnation?

Regarding the first questions, scholars argue over exactly what limitations Jesus had in His human incarnation. Luke 2:52 says He "increased in wisdom" as He grew up. Philippians 2:7 allows for the possibility that Jesus voluntarily laid aside His omniscience during His ministry on earth. Mark 3:22–30 seems to say that Jesus performed miracles not through His position as God the Son but through the power of the Holy Spirit. That doesn't take away from His deity any more than closing our eyes takes away from our inherent ability to see. A strong man can voluntarily use less than his full power, for various reasons—there is no reason to think God could not do the same.

For Christ-followers, this also inspires debate about what priority to place on rest. Meeting real needs is important for Christ-followers, but when does it become enablement and a distraction from the gospel? Regarding these situations, we must rely on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead us to do what He has planned for us and give us the ability to follow through. The Holy Spirit will also work in the hearts of those we minister to according to their own faith; we can't orchestrate the relationship others have with God, nor should we try to do so.

A minor theme of hospitality runs through Luke 9. When Jesus sent the Twelve to heal and preach the kingdom of God, He told them to enter a town and stay with whoever seemed receptive to their message (Luke 9:4). Here, Jesus shows the same hospitality by inviting the crowd to stay. Later, as Jesus leads the disciples through Samaria, James and John will offer to call down fire from heaven on a town that refuses the basic courtesy of providing them with a place to sleep (Luke 9:51–54). Their response does not reflect Jesus' heart; He had told them to leave a town that did not receive them, not destroy it (Luke 9:5).
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