Don’t you love how you can read something in the Bible many different times, but it can suddenly speak something different to your heart than it ever has before? I used to think maybe I hadn’t paid as much attention to detail the first few times, but then I realized it was actually the Holy Spirit. You see, the Bible is a living word and Jesus speaks to us through it as he wills. I know this, but I still felt that feeling of awe when reading a familiar account recently. The feeding of the 5,000 in Luke is a Bible story taught to little children, but I felt like a youth when I read it yesterday. It spoke anew to me of the responsibility his disciples held in assisting Jesus to carry out the miracle. They had responsibilities, and it turns out, so do we.
If you aren’t interested in seeing Jesus work miracles in and through your life then stop reading now. Close out this link and continue on in your place of comfort, but if you’re eager for even just some crumbs from the Master’s table, then let’s break it down together.
1. Let go of your plan. You’ll notice that right away when the disciples saw a problem they started coming up with solutions. Practical solutions. Hey, I’ve discovered that miracles don’t typically appear practical, and it didn’t readily enter the minds of the disciples to ask for one. I’m sure we can relate.
Hungry crowd. Check. Can someone call Pizza Hut and see if they deliver out this far? But seriously, it says the twelve saw the crowd, went to Jesus and said, “hey, you probably better tell this mob to cut out and grab some grub” (ok, I’m paraphrasing, but you get me).
They saw the issue. Hungry crowd. They went for an obvious solution, albeit not the best. Sure, it may have been the easiest, but the crowd would miss the blessing if they left early to go find food. Turns out, the twelve would have missed their blessing as well.
See, for Jesus to do what he can do, we have to let go of our way. We have to forfeit our plans much of the time. We can’t go into prayer and say, “Jesus, I need you to do ______.” Instead we need to ask, “Lord, how should we solve this? What can you do in this hopeless, difficult situation? I know you have a plan.”
2. Obey. Ok, so when the disciples went to Jesus with the problem and solution (in their minds), he was quick to say, “you give them something to eat.”
How many times has Jesus said “you” to one of us and we’ve answered back, “oh, not me, Lord. Someone else is far more qualified I’m sure.”
Do you remember the rich ruler who asked what he needed to do to follow Jesus? Christ gave him the answer, but it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He walked off disappointed, and Jesus wasn’t able to show him the miracles he could have worked in and through that rich man. He couldn’t obey. Jesus was asking too much.
If you’re wanting to see the Lord work in your life then you’re going to have to obey. Obedience isn’t a bad thing. It’s not God’s heavy-handed way of beating us down. It’s actually a practice in love. When my husband tells our daughters to stop when they’re about to run into a parking lot, he instructs them in love. He wants to keep them safe, he wants to bless them, and he wants them to live to see all the wonderful things this life has to offer. When he instructs, they obey. Their obedience to him is a service in love. They obey out of respect, but also because they know Dad has their best interests at heart. Much the same, if we’re wanting the best life has to offer, and especially if we want to see the Lord work mightily in our lives, we must learn to obey.
3. Step out.
Okay, I love this part of the story. Jesus says, “have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”
Alright, so first off Jesus tells them this right after they had relayed they only had five loaves of bread and two fish. For five thousand men! And that’s just the men they were counting. What about the women and children?! I know my nine year old daughter could eat the two fish and at least a loaf and a half herself. Regardless of the huge number, Jesus pulls out of left field this rather odd picnic idea, with limited resources, and do you know what his gang of twelve do?
Now, they knew. Don’t forget, they knew he could do some stuff. They knew he worked miracles. The thing is, we as a church know Jesus can work miracles too, but somewhere between shouting hallelujah and stepping out personally we get cold feet. We say, “yeah, I believe Jesus still performs miracles,” yet we don’t believe he can work them through us. We assume he saves the miracle business for the truly pious, the preacher, maybe the neighbor who remembers to read their Bible every single day. But not us.
So, we miss the miracle. Maybe we’re afraid we’ll step out and it won’t work. It doesn’t say it in scripture, but I imagine one of those twelve, as they sheepishly instructed hungry, tired folks to sit in groups of fifty, like a kindergarten story time, I imagine one of them must have felt silly. Surely one of them wondered how their teacher was going to pull this one off. I’m sure there was some doubt, yet still they obeyed. Luke goes on to say they did it. They did as Jesus said. They sat everyone down. In groups of fifty at that. And do you know what happened?!
Everyone was fed. And they were satisfied.
So, I guess the question is, are you hungry? Are you craving to be filled with the healing, joy, fullness, and divine knowledge of Christ? If you are thinking “yes” then maybe it’s time to pop a squat and anticipate your share as Jesus breaks the bread of miraculous power in his hands, blesses it, and then passes it on to you. He’s got enough to go around. He just requires more people who will let go of their specific lunch plans, have a seat, and partake in the miracle provision he provides.