Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27: 4000 fed with a few fish

Then Jesus called the disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days and they have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry since they may faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven—and a few small fish.” After instructing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples, who then gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Not counting children and women, there were four thousand men who ate.  (Matthew 15:32-38  NET)

Compassion can make people weak and emotional—but here Jesus’ compassion made Him powerful and intelligent. He noticed that the people who had stuck with Him for three days because of their hunger for the word of God had run out of food, and would be weak or sick if they tried to make it home on empty stomachs, and so He decided to feed them. They weren’t going to die of hunger, but He knew it would be better for them to eat. The twelve did not notice this, only Jesus did, and if He noticed a small, unspoken problem with this group of people 2000 years ago, how will He not do the same for you and me today? 

Whenever we do what is right like these people (staying in a deserted place for days in order to learn from Jesus and receive healing), even when we don’t know how things are going to turn out in the end, our faith to be obedient to Him causes God to identify our needs and provide for us. Too many times we try to plan everything out and stay in control, which leads to worldly thinking and a lack of trust in God. What we need to do is identify the course of action that pleases God the most, whether or not we know how it will turn out in the end, and do it. God will take care of the rest.

A man I’ve recently learned a lot from is in a habit of saying: “Lift up your head. It’ll all turn out right!” This is the attitude we need to have when we have faith in God.

The other lesson in this passage is the contrast between Jesus’ desire to feed people (there must have been over 12,000 people if the men numbered 4000) and the disciples’ attitude of “Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place?” Jesus was determined to feed the crowd, the disciples were focused on why it couldn’t be done. Isn’t this one of our biggest problems in life? If we look for excuses as to why something cannot work, we’ll find a million. God never asks us whether or not something is physically possible—if we have the money or the skill—He asks us if we have faith, and if we do, the physically impossible will become possible.

It’s not enough to go to church, read the Bible, and be a good person. God is calling us to a life of faith, of making the impossible possible for the glory of His name. This passage is not meant to be a wonderful story of how powerful Jesus was, it is meant as a model for us today. Every time we’re faced with hungry people that can’t be fed, we need to have the guts and audacity to feed them.

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