I was reading from the book of Mark in The Message version of the Bible, and the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 jumped out at me in a new way.
Jesus had been teaching crowds of people day after day. They followed him, turned up wherever he went, and if they got wind of where he was headed next they went to round up their friends and family and hustled to get there before him so they would be sure not to miss a thing. This last was the circumstance on the day he fed 5,000+.
Mark 6:32-34 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.
So Jesus was doing his thing, pouring himself out in his Father’s work when his student followers (no doubt with the best intentions both to protect their Master, and also to consider the people gathered there) brought a problem to his attention.
Mark 6:35-36 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.”
We won’t even talk about the fact that I’m absolutely CERTAIN that Jesus was aware of the situation. (Have you ever felt like you needed to tell God what was going on, as if he clearly didn’t know?) What came next was what Holy Spirit was bringing to my attention.
Mark 6:37 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?”
Remember, these guys have already seen Jesus perform miraculous healings. It’s not like they don’t know he can do stuff. But, again, I can’t be too hard on them because how many times have I experienced Jesus do big things…and then seemingly suffer amnesia when the next big problem comes up and I am trying to figure my own way out of things and forgetting who actually has the power to help?
YOU DO IT. Now, if you have read the story before you know that it’s not actually the disciples who multiply the bread and fish. That’s all Jesus! The disciples did their part (they followed His instructions) and brought the food to him, helped organize the people to sit in groups of 50 & 100, helped pass out the (miraculously multiplied) food, and then gathered the leftovers.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? One of the reasons I love to read this version (alongside other translations) is that sometimes the wording sounds EXACTLY like what might come out of my own mouth, or at least runs through my head. How many times have you felt like God is asking a really big, near impossible thing of you and your initial response is, “Are you serious?!”
I really like step-by-step simple instructions. I felt Holy Spirit highlight some step-by-step instructions for what I should do when I feel God asking me to do a big thing:
- Take an inventory of what you DO have that can help you with the thing God is asking of you. “How many loaves of bread do you have?”
- Organize the big whole into smaller pieces. “Jesus got them all (5,000+) to sit down in groups of fifty of a hundred…”
- Pray & let Jesus do his thing. “He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke and gave the bread to the disciples.”
- Do your part. “The disciples
in turngave it to the people.”
- See Jesus’s hand in the results. “The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers.”
So, the next time God talks to you (and me) about doing a BIG thing that seems impossible…I hope we’ll remember that we’re not actually the ones responsible for the results. It’s just our job to trust Jesus & do our part – to get out of our own way, and partner with him.