His disciples replied, ‘How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?’
This is a very familiar passage, isn’t it? I don’t know how many times I have read it, or heard it read, but it has to be a lot. I confess that there are times when I feel the way the disciples must have felt when Jesus once again challenges them over the need to provide food for all these people.
The people gather together and sit down, at Jesus request, and he offers up the meagre bounty of seven loaves and a few small fish. Then turns to His disciples and tells them to distribute them. Can you imagine what exactly is going on in the minds of both the gathered people and the disciples at this moment? Perhaps they are really cool about it – after all, Jesus has already fed five thousand people and this is “only” four thousand! And they have more food to begin with this time.
Or perhaps, like me, they are simply in awe of this man, Jesus, for whom nothing seems to be impossible; and for whom nothing is too much for Him to ask of them. I am put in mind, as I read this of John 14:12 when Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…”
Jesus never held back from asking a lot from people; not just His disciples, but everyone. From Pharisees and teachers of the law, to the wealthy and the poor alike; the healthy and the sick… Jesus has great expectations of what we can do in His name.
However well equipped and well resourced we are, or however poorly equipped and poorly resourced we may feel, we are simply called to offer it in service and in faith to the One who gave everything. There will always be times when we feel overwhelmed by life, or by the scale of a task that lies before us; but this passage reminds me that we are simply called to respond in obedience and in faith with what little we may have, and not to diminish our expectations of what God may achieve through it.
Heavenly Father, as we seek to discern Your will for us in this season, help us to look with hope and expectation at what we have, rather than with concern and anxiety at what we don’t have. We offer it to you, in obedience and in faith, and pray that You will ever remind us of Jesus’ promise that we can do great things in Your name. Amen
Ponder… Have you been in a situation where, like the disciples, you have felt overwhelmed by the sense of the need in a situation, and felt inadequate to do anything about it. What happened?
Pray… FOR OUR COMMUNITY Pray for new parents, especially those who begin attending events in our building. Although it is exciting, being a new parent it is exhausting and can be bewildering. Many of our new parents live a long way away from grandparents, and they need to build new support networks. FOR THE WORLD Pray for new parents worldwide. Pray that access to quality maternity and post natal care may become freely available to all, not just a privileged few. Pray too, for the training and resourcing of healthcare professionals that work with new parents.
Act… Get a jar and put your small change in tin. At the end of Lent, give it to charity.