LOAVES AND FISH
“And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ And they said to him, ‘Shall we go and buy two hundred denaril worth of bread and give it to them to eat?’ And he said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and see.’ And when they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.'” (Mark 6:35-38)
“You give them something to eat. You. These people that I love are not someone else’s problem. I have, in fact, made them your problem.” Ok, that’s not a direct quote, but you get the idea because Jesus had actually created the circumstances the disciples now found themselves in. After all, He was the one who talked for a really long time in a desolate place-too long, actually, because now the crowd was hungry, and the hour was late.
Of course, it wasn’t in the disciples’ power or pocketbook to feed so many. For goodness’ sake, they’d just come back from the mission field where all their needs had to be met by God because they had nothing. And He often used other people to provide. “Jesus charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in their belts-but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there.'” (Mark 6:8-10).
So, different scenario, same God. The One now telling the disciples to feed the people was the same One who told them to take nothing on their journey because He was going to provide in their moments of need, be it food and shelter through the hospitality of others or through straight-up miracles. And big things happened as a result. “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13).
Here they were in need again, only this time they were the hosts, and they were flummoxed. How could that be? These guys had just been empowered by Jesus to heal in His name when He wasn’t even with them. Yet not one of them considered that He was the solution to the food crisis. Listen closely and you just might hear faint knocking on hollow heads because, honestly, they should’ve known better.
Perhaps being exhausted made them forget. Or perhaps every new situation requires a refresher course in faith. Either way, Jesus was patient with their sarcastic question (Shall we go and buy two hundred denarri worth of bread and give it to them to eat?) and posed one of His own: “How many loaves do you have?” In other words, “The people in front of you are in need, and you have access to the One who (1) loves them, and (2) has power to do all things. So, bring Me what you have: your small-but-growing faith and a little boy’s lunch (John 6:9), because provision originates and abounds from My hands.”
Spoiler alert. Everyone got fed that day and it was the disciples who handed it out. Jesus didn’t make food appear in people’s laps (although He easily could have). Instead, He enlisted His followers to help. What a gift that was, not only for the hungry crowd, but also for the men who got to lean in and see a whole new kind of miracle, as well as people dearly loved by God being satisfied and forever changed.
But more on that in a minute.
Thank God for being the great provider. Thank Him for the specific ways He’s caring for you now. Bring Him any need that has caused you to feel overwhelmed or afraid. Ask Him to take your little offering of faith and to use you to care for others in need.
- What is your greatest need right now?
- What are some needs around you that God wants you to lean into? If you don’t know, ask Him to show you.
- What are some things God has already provided you with (money, time, talent, influence, etc.) that you could offer up to be used by Him?