When the disciples encountered a hungry assembly in Luke 9, it was not the people who were grumbling but the disciples themselves. Crowds had followed Jesus to Bethsaida (literally, “the house of fish”), a town along the Upper Jordan River, near the Sea of Galilee. Luke says that Jesus welcomed the crowd, speaking of the Kingdom of God and healing everyone who needed healing – that is, He addressed both the spiritual and physical needs of those who came to Him. But in the late afternoon, His twelve apostles apparently needed a break, so they asked Jesus to disperse the crowd. “We are in a desert place. Send them away so they can get food and lodging.”
“You give them something to eat,” Jesus replied.
In a commentary on Luke, Charles Spurgeon found Jesus’ reply noteworthy. “How often does Christ seem to ask us riddles, and places us in difficulties, so that we begin to say, ‘What will come of this? How shall we escape from this temptation; or how shall we stand under this trial?” In that moment, Jesus already had a plan, though it was not yet clear to His disciples.
We often feel like, “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish.” Perhaps we cannot escape our current strain of cultural irreverence. But Jesus instructed the disciples to have the assembled mass sit in groups of about fifty each. Then, from five loaves and two fish, Jesus pulled enough bread and meat to feed five thousand, with twelve baskets leftover.
Jesus will surpass our expectations, and we should remember the wealth of His provision anytime we feel unable to meet our needs – or those we minister to. Next week, I’ll take about how we can practically do this. (This is a three part article, read part one, here.)
A version of this post was originally published on TheDyingAway