“O the joy of feeling utterly incompetent.”-No One
I think it would be safe to say that most of us have a hate-hate relationship with failure. Nothing has caused me to drag my feet in the direction of obedience like the fear of failure. I’ve spent enough time with the fear of failure to learn a thing or two, one of which is that there are few things in life as costly.
Thankfully, the God who created the human psyche also understands it far better than any behavioral specialist could, and knows just how to address and disarm this disabling fear. Matthew 14 records a time when Jesus did this very thing with His disciples.
The first observation is that it seems to me that this miracle wasn’t necessary. More often than not, a desperate situation of some kind was the occasion of Jesus’ miraculous intervention: someone was on their deathbed or had an illness beyond the help of medical care etc.. However, on this occasion, no one was dying or in danger of dying. Sure, it was late and the crowd was hungry, but they were well within walking distance of a village where they could buy food (v. 15).
So why did Jesus perform this miracle if it wasn’t necessary for the 5000? I believe Jesus performed this miracle because it was necessary for His disciples.
The second observation is that out of the approximately thirty-seven miracles of Jesus that are recorded in Scripture, this is the only one that appears in each of the 4 gospels.
This observation leads me to believe that of all Jesus’ miracles, this one left the biggest impact on His disciples.
Why was this experience so necessary for Jesus’ disciples and why did it leave such a huge impact on them? Here’s a stab at answering these questions and figuring out what it means for us.
You see, Jesus came declaring that heaven was standing right outside earth’s door. A new day was dawning where God was going to dwell on earth with mankind. Not only did He declare it in word but in works of power as well.
Jesus was just about to pass the baton off to His eleven disciples, sending them out to do exactly what He had been doing: proclaiming the message of the kingdom, demonstrating its power and calling people to follow Him etc… They weren’t to worry about food and clothing and oh yeah, everyone was going to hate them.
They were going to lead a massive movement and develop its future leaders etc… Being common men, I think it would be safe to say their mission was a bit out of their natural reach. It was crucial that they knew that what they had was indeed enough. This, I believe, is what Jesus was teaching His disciples through this miracle.
If they weren’t convinced that what they had was enough, they wouldn’t have made it through the first day on the job. There was too much at stake: the world was at stake, God’s plan was at stake, we were at stake, their coming into who God created them to be was at stake.
This is what Jesus was teaching HIs disciples. He was saying in essence, if You follow me, every day you get out of bed there are going to be 5000 plus hungry mouths to feed and you’re going to have only 5 loaves of bread. What are you going to do? Take those loaves, lift them up to the Father and thank Him for what You do have and then start feeding the masses. Wait and see what happens next.
What does this have to do with us? Everything. The baton that the eleven carried has been passed on to us. We all have different roles God has given us but our purpose is the same. What roles has God given to you? Or, where is He leading you? Are you convinced that you have enough? If you aren’t, then you are going to pass through life never really “showing up.” But guess what, that’s not an option. There’s too much at stake.
It’s not really about what you have. It’s about what He can do with what you have.