The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.
So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.
When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.”
Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.”
They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”
But he was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.”
That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.”
Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.
As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead across to Bethsaida while he dismissed the congregation. After sending them off, he climbed a mountain to pray.
What surprises you about this story? Think about it for a moment. Do you have it?
The thing that surprises about this passage is that the Apostles couldn’t fathom doing what Jesus asked them to do.
Yes, you heard that right.
These guys had just come back from being on mission and had seen amazing things. This is what we see in verses 12-13, “Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.” They had experienced the power of God in real and tangible ways. These twelve experienced something that most of us who follow Jesus dream of experiencing.
So here they are, fresh off their journeys and Jesus asks them to feed the crowd. They realize they don’t have the money and express shock and confusion. Jesus takes what they have and multiplies it to feed the crowd with some left over.
I’m surprised by the fact that the Apostles didn’t think they could pull off what Jesus asked of them because I’m arrogant to think that I would have been super faithful.
Yet, in so many ways I am sure that I am more like the Apostles than I care to admit.
I have seen and experienced God things throughout my life. Things that should leave me in place of absolute trust. Sadly, I admit, that’s not usually the case. Too often I am just like the Apostles, “Where’s the money going to come from?”
We all get caught up in the day to day realities and stresses of this life, don’t we? We forget that God is trustworthy.
I can’t tell you how many “leadership” meetings in churches I have sat in where the fear and stress was through the roof. These weren’t “leadership” meetings so much as “business” meetings. “Giving is down! We need more money! Pastor, you need to preach about giving money. But you need to do it in a way that doesn’t let people know that we are struggling.” Often in these moments the pastors would simply encourage that the Elders communicate clearly the need of the church to the congregation and more than anything pray. This was often viewed as naive and not how the real world works. Oddly enough, when we actually did those things, the people came through and met the needs. They just needed to know. It’s so hard to trust that God will work through his people because we don’t really believe that God will.
In what ways do you need to remember how God has provided and cared for you in the past so that you can move forward in faith in the present?