“You Feed Them”

The words of Jesus haunt me…

But Jesus said, “You feed them.” ~Mark 6:37

Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 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. So he began teaching them many things.

Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!”

 “How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.”

They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”

Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred.

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed from those loaves!

This story – the story many of us heard at some point in our growing up years – was read with a new set of eyes yesterday. I read it as if Jesus were not just talking to the disciples, but as if He were talking to me.  I cannot get His words out of my mind….

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

The mother who sits alone in the dark of the African bush, under the most magnificent starry sky as she hugs her child and weeps as the child exhales one last time.  Starvation has claimed another life.  There wasn’t any food and that mother who loves her child just as much as we do – those of us in comfortable homes with cabinets full of groceries – had no means to provide nourishment.  And so she sits and she weeps and if no one has told her of Jesus, she grieves without hope.

We have resources at our fingertips.  We have food, money, and the ability to buy a plane ticket.  God chooses to use people to help others, and so what if that child died because no one decided to take Jesus seriously when He said “love your neighbor as yourself” ~Mark 12:31.

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

The teenage girl who ran away from home who sits on a street corner.  People walk right past her with judgement on their lips and this girl who is hungry and lost like a sheep without a shepherd thinks she is a waste and unwanted.  No one stops.  No one looks at her with compassion like Jesus does.  And so she sits and she weeps. and if not one has told her about Jesus, she grieves without hope.

We pass her by because she is different….an outcast. We think she’s trouble and will never change.  Or maybe we just feel at a loss at what to say to her.  What if we just decided to walk up to her and start a conversation, trusting God to lead like He always does.  We have to ability to buy her a meal, give her a place to sleep, or at least direct her to a shelter that is skilled in helping others, but do we stop to help?

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

And then there is the young woman in your church.  You pass by her every Sunday and you assume she has it all together.  No one greets her, no one asks how she is doing, and no one disciples her.  She goes through the motions and she sings the songs but she walks out the door and doesn’t understand who God is or who she is in Christ.  She doesn’t know what it looks like to truly follow Jesus because she comes from a broken family.  She needs someone to love her and to teach her, but no one does and so she sits and she weeps and because she doesn’t know Jesus, she grieves without hope.

This was me.  I was this girl.  But someone finally took Jesus seriously and she fed me.  She fed me with the love of Jesus and with the Word and this was the way that I fell deeply in love with the Bread of Life who nourishes and fills and satisfies every longing within my soul. Jesus is the Great Feeder and in Him we will never go hungry, but I didn’t understand this until someone fed me with what she had and with what she knew and then trusted the Lord to multiply her sweet lessons and teach me only what He could.

But Jesus said, “You feed them.” I’ve been fed so that I can feed others.

We have been given everything we need for life and godliness.  He has blessed us abundantly so that we can feed others.  The disciples found fish and bread – ordinary food and not a lot of it, but still they gave what they found to Jesus.  Once they gave Jesus all they had, He was able to bless it and multiply it.  Jesus took these ordinary blessings and gave thanks for them.  He blessed it, broke it, and gave it, but it wasn’t until the disciples let go and opened their hands and surrendered what they had to God that the miracle happened.  The person who will change a life, and therefore change the world, is the one who can see potential in a problem and act by faith. How many times do God’s people complain that if they had more money or more food or a nicer home for entertaining they could do something.  But what if we take what He has blessed us with and tell Him thank you.  Tell Him thank you for the small apartment and the stained couch.  Tell Him thank you for the cabinets that have just enough food, but not an abundance.  Tell Him thank you and then trust Him with an open heart as He leads you who to feed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We mustn’t measure our resources, but trust in the God who says he can more than we ask or imagine!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” ~Ephesians 3:20

“Eucharisteo – thanksgiving – always precedes the miracle.” ~Ann Voskamp

So often as I walk to the streets of this city, I feel so very inadequate.  I have not been to seminary and I wasn’t discipled until my late 20’s.  I’m learning that what I see as inadequate is actually setting the perfect stage for the power of the Holy Spirit to shine through.  My ability as a missionary sometimes seems like a couple fish and some bread, but when I trust God to give me His words in the moments that He ordains, He powerfully comes through and I am always so surprised at what comes out of my mouth.  His Spirit flows through me, feeding others, and thus feeding me.  Nothing compares to stepping out on a limb and engaging someone in a conversation about Jesus, using whatever knowledge you have of the Bible and your own life story, and seeing Him bless and multiply as only the Great Feeder can!

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9

I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” ~1 Corinthians 2:3-5

Jesus tells us to feed them.  Will you obey?  Use what you have where you are – give thanks – and wait for the miracle!