Joshua 1, 2, 3 and Luke 9:1-17
The book of Joshua tells us of the conquest of the Promised Land and its settlement by the tribes of Israel. These opening chapters tell of the preparation the people make for conquest. Luke gives us an account of the mission Jesus sends the twelve on in Judea.
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” These words of comfort are given to Joshua as the preparations for the conquest of the Promised Land begin. Joshua tells the people to make ready, they will cross over the Jordan River in three days’ time. Here he instructs the Transjordanian tribes that their women, children and livestock can stay on the land they have been given by Moses, but that their warriors will cross over to help their fellow Israelites secure the land.
Joshua sends spies into Jericho, and the first place they go is a prostitute’s house. I’m honestly not sure how to deal with that. Perhaps it would have been a place where strange men came and went and so people would think less of their arrival. Perhaps prostitutes were known to give away information.
Rahab proves to be shrewd and protects the men by hiding them on her roof and by giving the town officials false information of their location. By doing this she gets the spies to agree to save her and her whole family from the coming disaster. She ties a crimson cord in her window as a sign of protection for those within her walls.
The Israelites camped at the Jordan for three days, a liturgical term. Joshua sends officials to tell the people that they are to follow the Ark of the Covenant, at a safe distance, the next day. The priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan and where they stepped, the water stopped flowing. All of the people passed by on dry land while the priests stood in the middle.
Jesus gives the twelve disciples a mission. It reminds me a bit of short term mission work. They go out into the surrounding areas bringing the good news and healing diseases.
Herod gets word of all that Jesus and his disciples are doing. He becomes anxious to see Jesus, because he fears that Jesus might be John the Baptist who he beheaded.
The disciples return eager to tell Jesus about all that they have accomplished. But somehow, word gets out that Jesus is around and the crowds begin to press in and follow them. Jesus speaks to the crowds, words of good news, and heals their illnesses. (The same things the disciples themselves had been doing.)
The crowds get hungry and the disciples beg Jesus to send them away for food. Jesus replies “you feed them.” But Jesus, they whine, we only have 5 fish and two loaves for the 13 of us! How can we feed 5,000 men?
Jesus tells them to gather the people in groups of fifty. Then, in a very liturgical moment, he blesses and breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples who distribute it to the people. When the remnants are collected there are 12 baskets leftover, one for each disciple.
It leads me to wonder, why are we so stingy with our fellow man? Especially considering God’s continued abundance with us?