But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” – Mark 6:37-38 NKJV
It had to be sometime later in the afternoon when the disciples started to become aware of a problem. There were quite a few people with them at the large desolate grassy area outside of Bethsaida and there was nothing for the crowd to eat. Walking into town was a possibility but it seemed as long as Jesus was ministering to the crowd they were sticking around. They approached Jesus and wanted Him to “send them away.”
Their stated concern was the crowd might be growing hungry. We’ll never really know their true motives. Maybe they were really concerned about the welfare of the people. Or perhaps the disciples themselves were tired. Having to minister to that many people could be taxing. And they expected to have Jesus all to themselves that day as earlier He called them out to the quiet, deserted place. But literally, thousands of people followed Him (and them) and now, because of the lateness of the hour, getting something to eat became a priority. They instinctively knew Jesus would be able to resolve this situation. All He needed to do was to “send them away.” But Jesus had a different answer to the problem the disciples all recognized. He tells the twelve, “You give them something to eat.”
Their response is so natural, “Two hundred days wages wouldn’t be enough to feed all these people!” I wonder if they thought to themselves, “He may have spent too much time out in the sun. This is crazy talk.”
The Jesus asked them this simple question. “How many loaves do you have?”
Remember this little rule of Bible interpretation; when any member of the Trinity asks a question, it isn’t because they are looking for information. Jesus already knew exactly what they had, but the disciples didn’t. Forcing them to “go and look” and their report to Him of just “five and two fish” now sets the stage for this miracle. Not one of the disciples could say they planned this. They searched and found they had nothing – except five loaves and two fish.
This is the second lesson or ministry principle I see from the Feeding of the 5000. The first lesson is Ministry will and often does occur in desolate places. This is the second lesson, God has already equipped and provided resources for you to serve His people. Much like Moses was walking around with his shepherd’s staff not understanding how God was going to great things through him using that staff; so too the disciples had no concept that those loaves and fish, what they already had on hand, were enough to serve Him people.
Too often we sell ourselves short on service because we look at our resources and say, “I know God has called me to serve in this capacity, but until I have more (time, money, less debt, more education, etc) I can’t do it.”
Don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with getting an education, learning how to better manage money, gaining wisdom etc, but you cannot say “no” to God because you don’t think you have enough. The disciples wanted to just send those people away, but Jesus was showing them how God has already provided them with the means to serve His people – if they just acted on it.
This is especially true when we are in the desert. When we are in a desolate or deserted place and think there is nothing we can do to meet a need that we see, Jesus says to us, “You do something. What do you have? Will you serve my people with it?”
While not exhaustive in any way, I’ll examine two more lessons from this rich passage in future posts about the Feeding Of The 5000.
In His Service,