I’ve been thinking a lot about the scene in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus feeds the five thousand. It is commonplace to hear people say, “The Lord never changes,” but the more I read the Gospels the more inclined I am to say, “Disciples never change.”
In Mark 6:30-44, the disciples have just returned from being sent out to preach and heal. Jesus attempts to take the disciples away to a quiet place to rest, but thousands of people figure out where he is going and they are awaiting his arrival. Out of his great compassion, Jesus immediately begins to minister to the crowd–so much for the disciples’ rest.
It is very late in the day, and the disciples are even more exhausted, when they come to Jesus and recommend that he send the crowd away to the surrounding countryside and villages so all the people can buy themselves something to eat. Jesus responds by telling the disciples to give them something to eat. The disciples are dumbfounded and, after basically rebuking Jesus, explain to Jesus that they don’t have enough food or money to feed these people. Jesus then takes what little they have (five loaves of bread and two fish) and feeds the entire crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children.
As I meditate on this passage, I am drawn to the disciples statement in verse 36, “Send them away…,” and to Jesus’s reply in verse 37, “You give them something…”
I wonder how often there are people or opportunities right in front of us that we want to send away. Most of the time it is because we, like the disciples, don’t feel we have the necessary resources. I know that is often the case for me. I recognize the opportunity for God to do something and I immediately consider whether or not I am capable–do I have the resources to serve in this way?
Jesus isn’t the least bit concerned with resources. Lack of resources is the disciples’ problem, but it is not Jesus’s problem. Jesus simply takes what they have, gives thanks for it, and then uses it. I’m struck by his giving thanks for what they have. My prayers are often about what I don’t have and will need in order to get the job done.
My fear and lack of resources are never the issue. Jesus towers above my fear and my lack of resources–he is not afraid of the things I am afraid of; he is not hindered by the things I am hindered by.
Lately I’ve been sensing that God is speaking to me about certain things, opportunities I cannot ignore. I want to send them away to others who can handle them–to the surrounding countryside and villages–and yet I hear Jesus saying, “You give them something.”
What about you? Are there people or opportunities that God has placed in your life? Does he want YOU to give them something? Are you trying to send them away out of fear that you are lacking in some way?
Take some time to sit quietly with the Lord and look upon the opportunities before you. Thank him for what you have…and then see what he might do.
Originally published on Mark Moore’s blog, September 2013.