You Feed Them
I recently took up a challenge from Pastor Chris to read one gospel a day for each of the 40 days of Lent. Finding time to read so much in a day has been challenging and I can’t say I’ve been perfect at it, yet when I have made time, one of the things I greatly enjoy is being able to familiarize myself with the accounts we have of Jesus’ time here on earth. One of the accounts that have caught my attention a few times throughout is the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 in the Gospel of Mark. More importantly, what has stood out is Jesus’ response to His disciples.
Send Them Away
We find the account of Jesus feeding the 5000 in the Gospel of Mark 6:30-45. In this account, Jesus has been teaching a large crowd for most of the day and it’s now evening time. His disciples come to Jesus and tell Him to send the crowd away because the people are all hungry and it’s time to eat. Jesus’ response is priceless and makes me chuckle every time I read it. Mark 6:37 says “But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
First, you have to appreciate the irony of the disciples telling the Son of God that it’s dinner time. He’s the one that created dark and light, so He knows it’s late. He’s fully God, but also fully man, so He knows what it means to be hungry.
Secondly, we know that Jesus wasn’t holding these people hostage, so I tend to assume that the real reason that the disciples wanted Jesus to disburse the crowd was so that THEY could get some food. Their thoughts turn inward as soon as their stomachs begin to rumble. I get it. I’ve been hangry before.
But it is a true reflection of the selfless heart of Christ and how quickly the human heart turns selfish. Jesus doesn’t let His disciples off the hook and He’s quick to address the needs of those in their midst. I believe this is a charge applicable to all of us that identify as Christ’s disciples today.
Go and Find Out
The disciples try to get Jesus to do the work of disbursing the crowd, but Jesus turns it right back around and puts the responsibility on them. Notice Jesus doesn’t respond by saying “You disburse them.”
Christ’s charge to His followers is filled with compassion for the lost.
Earlier in the story, it says “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus sets the example and then calls us to follow Him and do as He does.
The hiccup in the story comes when the opportunity for His followers to show that same compassion to the crowd is presented. The disciples try to sidestep the responsibility and put it back on Jesus. Jesus is quick to give them more blatant instruction to help the crowd, but the disciples continue to protest, claiming they don’t have enough resources to do what Jesus has commanded them to do.
This got me thinking:
How often do we as Followers of Christ sit back and expect Jesus to do the work that He Himself has charged us to do?
Don’t get me wrong, God Himself is the only one that can facilitate miracles and blessings, and I firmly believe God does intervene in situations and solve problems on a regular with or without us.
Clearly, the God of the universe is capable of anything. But in this story, Jesus could have easily performed a miraculous feat that didn’t involve the disciples doing anything. He could have made the crowd’s hunger go away supernaturally or made manna rain down from heaven, but He didn’t. He tells the disciples to feed them and gives them the responsibility to care for those in need. In a similar way, one of the last things Jesus said before ascending to heaven was a charge for His followers to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Not only are His followers tasked with taking care of the physical needs of others but, also Spiritual needs.
Why does the all-powerful God task those that identify as His followers with these responsibilities?
In my next post, we’ll cover some of the reasons why God gives us the responsibility to take action
Consider this week why it is that God sometimes gives us as His disciples a responsibility that is seemingly out of our known abilities?
Written By: Cal Renner, Communications Team