A very special THANK YOU! to Matt Connelly for delivering the message today!
“You give them something to eat.”
I can’t imagine how the disciples may have felt that hot evening in a barren desolate land far from any sort of comfort or lodging, surrounded by nearly, at best guess 10,000 men, women and children, though at that point its hard to tell with so many dirty, hot and tired faces peering up at you.
It was a simple idea at first. “Just trying to be helpful,” kind of good idea. Jesus had been at it all day, healing the sick, mending the lame, preaching and teaching. He must have been exhausted but he kept on going, feeding the people the very words of life. But it was dark now, stomachs were rumbling, the disciple’s minds kept wandering back to that meager meal of a few fish and some crusty dry bread they had. Maybe watching Jesus show such heartfelt compassion for those poor tired souls; even though he was exhausted he seemed to keep moving, clasping a hand, sitting with a child, wiping away a tear, was starting to wear off on the disciple’s hearts. Or maybe the disciples were just hungry and wanted this party to be over, we’ll never know for sure
“So Jesus,” one of the disciples speak up, “how ‘bout we let everyone head on back to town, while there is still a little light to see by and go get some food?”
But Jesus says, “you give them something to eat.”
Whatever the original motivation, (Jesus takes all of our motivations good, rough around the edges, incomplete-the mixed bag that they are) and He begins to shape the heart. The need of those 10,000 or so souls was the same basic need that the disciples had was the same basic need every creature has, we’re hungry and we would really like some food. Common needs that touch everyone at a fundamental, part of who we are level. Necessities like: food, drink, shelter, companionship, touch, approval, tenderness and care. Anyone can relate and understand. Suddenly those nameless dirty hungry faces aren’t so nameless anymore, they are people just like the disciples, with the same basic needs, same basic hopes, that become bridges to connect the gap between people and bring them together. Their welfare stops becoming something that I’m not responsible for but something that I am responsible in my own little way for. The heart starts understanding what Jesus meant when He said, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
“This is all I have Jesus!” A cry of frustration, of hopelessness, of the same kind of need; “I can’t meet the needs of so many with just a few crumbs and some salted fish. It’s impossible, just let them fend for themselves. I give up! I can’t do it! I won’t do it! I don’t want to fail! I don’t want to stretch my neck out too far! It’s scary out there and this is a leap of faith I don’t know if I want to take and I’m pretty sure I don’t want too! I might go without too!” Fear, doubt and shame all rolled into one.
Jesus simply says bring what you have.
Then Jesus does what only Jesus can do. He takes what they have, breaks it, blesses it and multiplies it. Tenfold, Hundredfold, Thousandfold. Multiplies it in ways the disciples cannot even imagine. Ways they would never know. Ways they would never see fulfillment of until they find themselves in glory. Because that food becomes so much more than just simple food. It is a blessing that confirms that Jesus’ words are true, that He is from God and going back to be with God, that He is the savior and the promised one. It is a blessing that touches the heart of maybe a little girl only five years old that never knew anyone cared for her until this moment when someone did in a very real and loving way. It is a blessing that maybe opened the way for a world-weary and tired old man to once again hope that God still knows him and forgives him. These and thousands of other blessings the disciples would never know are found in those few small crumbs and salted fish that Jesus blessed and used to create a bridge for faith to flow in.
But Jesus doesn’t walk around and feed those thousands of people himself. He gave it to the disciples to be His hands and feet to walk amongst the crowds that he walked amongst Himself. To let the disciple’s hearts grow with wonder and excitement as those few crumbs and salted fish, in Jesus hands, became what they never could be in their own hands, a meal that fills both body and soul till they are satisfied and need no more. Those disciples found that in the trusting of Jesus and the giving of the bread they benefited more than those they cared for. Their trust and hope in Jesus grew in leaps and bounds but so did their heart for the poor and needy, knowing they were the same really and those common needs were a bridge that connected them. And those words, “you give them something to eat,” was only possible with Jesus but Jesus used what the disciples had to make it possible for them.
I guess, I can Imagine after all how the disciples felt.
- Yesterday, in my county 129 families with small children didn’t have a place to call home and 100 more men and women slept on a cot in a shelter.
- Yesterday, in my county 200 women and children were forced from their homes because of domestic violence and had to find a safe place away from the abuse.
- Last year in our country, 146 wide scale disasters struck 42 states and territories.
- Tomorrow, in our world, 680 million people will never have even heard the name Jesus.
The closer we come to Jesus, the more we hear His words, the deeper we experience His compassion, the longer we watch His love for others, the more our heart grows for those around us. People who are just like us, same needs, same hopes, bridges that show how much more alike we are than not. But what do we have to give? A few crumbs and some salted fish. A few words, a hammer and a few nails, a weekend free, a few dollars in my pocket, a way with cars, a quick smile, a gentle touch. Wholly inadequate, I know, even for one family that doesn’t have a place to call home. But Jesus simply says to give it to Him, what meager things we have and have Him break it and make it into some thing new, bless it and set it aside for service and multiply it in ways we will never truly know this side of eternity. But Jesus, like always, gives it back to you, go and make disciples, go and care for the poor and needy, go and be Christian! And those words, “you give them something to eat,” is only possible with Jesus but Jesus uses what we have to make it possible.