A while back I wrote about the feeding of the five thousand—P A of W: Needed Refreshment—but I want to take another look at this story.
First of all, I want to point out both Jesus and the disciples are identifying normal human needs in this story.
Mar 6:31 “And [Jesus] said to [the disciples], ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”
Mar 6:34 “And Jesus…was moved with compassion for [the multitude], because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.”
The disciples also point out a need of the crowd. Mar 6:35-36 “…His disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send [the multitude] away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.’”
Mar 6:37 “But He answered and said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’”
By Jesus’s response, it could be assumed Jesus is pressuring the disciples to produce what is needed to actually accomplish this task.
Mar 6:37 And they said to Him, ‘Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?’”
These guys did not have 200 denarii to spend on bread. They are not actually offering, they are looking at Jesus and saying, are you kidding us? There is no way! (Thankful Jesus chose a task that was so very difficult the disciples literally could not attempt it in their own self-effort. See because otherwise they might have missed the whole point.)
See, what if it had just been fifty people? What about twenty people?
Self-effort and a feeling of responsibility is normal in ministry, but it’s not actually what God is asking of us.
Jesus isn’t asking the disciples to come up with 5,000 loafs of bread, He is also not asking them to come up with 50 loafs of bread. We can easily mistake God’s directions in circumstances requiring provision because we are only seeing the circumstances and the needs from an earthly, human-effort sort of mindset. Jesus isn’t asking the disciples to come up with something beyond their own capabilities or resources. He’s really not. Keep reading.
Mar 6:38-39 “But He said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and see.’ And when they found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass.”
Weird, Jesus just told them to feed the crowd, yet when they come back with not enough to feed the crowd Jesus DOESN’T reprimand them! He also doesn’t send them shopping. He doesn’t tell them to search through the crowd seeking more food. He doesn’t tell them to take up a money collection to buy more food. He doesn’t tell them to go fishing. He doesn’t tell them, put more effort into it! What does Jesus say?
He tells them to bring the people to Him and then does what?
Mar 6:41 “And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.”
Jesus takes what the disciples have given and blesses it!
He asked them to give what they had with them. And, very importantly, in this moment, Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to go hungry for the sake of the 5,000 who are hungry.
Mar 6:42 “So they all ate and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.”
Challenge: Remember God is a God of provision! He is not demanding our self performance rather He seeks our willingness to admit our limitations, give Him what we do have, and allow Him to do the rest.