1) A simple command: This is a very popular story in the Bible and there are many great lessons we could learn from it. Most of us will focus on the miracle Jesus did in using a small lunch of a boy to feed the hungry 5,000. One thing most of us may have missed is the simple command Jesus gave to his disciples when they presented him with the huge problem: finding food for the 5,000. In respond to the suggestion presented by the disciples: Send the people away that they could go to the surrounding villages to buy their own food but Jesus gave them a simple command: You give them something to eat.” ()
2) A simple reason: Why would Jesus say that? In John 6:6, Jesus said these words to test them for he already knew what he was going to do. Jesus wanted to test his disciples what would they do facing real needs of people surrounding them. Often times, we will bring the needs of our friends to Jesus and ask him to do something to meet their needs. But the Lord may tell us: “You do something. You meet their needs.” Then what will we do in such situation? Most of us will remind the Lord that we can’t do anything because we are too busy, don’t have the resources, too much trouble or danger of getting involved, etc. just to list a few common excuses most of us will us to push things away.
1) We need to get out. “When Jesus landed.” The Greek word exelthwn means to get out. This refers to Jesus got out of the boat in . Today most Christians are from middle class, have most of our material needs. Most of our kids are good kids making good grades and our family life is mostly happy and fulfilling. We enjoy the close fellowship of believers and the life style is mostly on Christian values and principles. So, most of times, we don’t see the real world where so many are suffering from many kinds of problems, troubles, broken families, moral decay, crimes of many kinds. We need to get out of our comfort zone so we can see the real world and the people in it.
2) We need to see: “He saw the multitude.” (6:34b) This large crowd was the people ran to see Jesus from all the near by towns. These were the people Jesus came to save. One of the reasons we are not as effective in spreading the gospel message as we should in reaching out to the real people is we didn’t get out of our comfort zone and therefore we didn’t see the needs of the people. To see means to know, to understand the pitiful condition these people live. Even we live in the neighborhood with them, work in the same office, attend the same school, but how little we know the lost people and their needs.
3) We need to feel: “And he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (6:34c) Compassion comes from passion which means a deep sense of love and care toward someone or something. When Jesus saw the people, understood their pitiful condition, he fell in love with them. Jesus saw more than just their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs. He saw their state of loss without a shepherd to lead them to the right path back to God. Don’t just see people on their outward appearance, their happy face, their possession or success. See them on their inside, their empty heart without the love of God, their spiritual loss.
We need to witness: “So he began teaching them many things.” (d) Many things refers to teaching of the gospel, message of salvation and the
1) They saw the needs: “By this time, it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late.’ () Jesus might be occupied by his teaching the people many thing, but the disciples were very much alert of the time of the day and the needs of food of the people. So they came to Jesus to offer their suggestion. Many of us do know the needs of the lost people both physical and spiritual. We are aware of the spiritual lost condition of the nonbelievers. It is important that we feel responsible to do something to meet their needs. Throughout the 2,000 years, countless faithful Christians saw the needs of the unsaved and were motivated to get involved to meet their needs. Our seeing the needs is only the first step.
2) They pushed things aside: “Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy them-selves something to eat.” ()Seeing the need of others is one thing, doing something to meet their needs is something else. Most of the times, we are afraid to take on their needs and do something for them. Instead, we will suggest ideas to push away our responsibility to meet their needs. Many of us are conscious of the unknown burdens of getting involved. We will find ways not to shoulder responsibility. Too often, we see the needs but we are not willing to do something.
3) They saw inadequacy: “Philip answered him, “Eight months of wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.” (John 6:7) Even if they had that much money, in fact they didn’t, it won’t buy enough food to meet the needs of 5,000 hungry stomachs. This is the number one reason most of us are afraid to get involved: we don’t have enough time, energy, money or love and care to do something to meet someone’s needs. We can’t because we don’t have enough.
4) They shifted to others: “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘Here is a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish, but how far would that go among so many?” (John 6:8-9) No one knows if the disciples had brought food with them to the mountain side for a whole day revival, but they were quick to locate a lunch of a small boy. This is a natural tendency when we see that we can’t do anything for someone, we look for help from others to do something about it. Many of us are good at this: pushing the burden to others to do something to meet their needs. But that was not what Jesus asks us to do.
WHAT WOULD JESUS WANT US DO? (Mark 6:35-44)
1) He wants us do something: “But he answered: You give them something to eat.” () This is in reply a suggestion by the disciples that Jesus should send the people away to buy their own food. (35-36) Anyone can send people away to find their own food. But Jesus wanted his disciples to know He wanted them to do something to meet the needs of these people. When God brings someone into the path of our life, He has a purpose: He wants us to help this someone in his/her needs. We are God’s instruments to help them. We should not try to push God’s call away or push it to someone else.
2) He wants the exact answer: “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” ()Too often we will make excuses not to get involved so quick without facts to support our claim: we can’t do this. Jesus wants to know the exact answer: what do you have? How can you be of help? What can you do in some way in this situation? You will be surprised to see that you do have much more than you think to help someone to meet his/her needs. The disciples found 5 loaves and 2 fish, not much, but it was all they need to meet the needs of the 5,000 when they put that little lunch in the hands of the Lord.
3) He wants to work through us: “Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down on green grass in groups of 100s and 50s. He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied.” (-42) All food supplies came from the hands of the Lord, but he needed the disciples to deliver the food to meet their needs. This is always the way: God wants to use us as channels of blessings to people with His abundant supplies. We don’t need to have all the supplies. God has them all. All we need is be willing to be His channels of blessing to those who have needs, both material and spiritual.
4) He shows us his power: “And the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was 5,000.” (-44) No one knows exactly how many were there to enjoy that fish dinner, it may be from 5,000 to 15,000, including women and children. The disciples worried not have enough food, but Jesus made it far beyond their needs with abundance running over. If it is with the Lord, there is no need to worry our insufficiency in meeting people’s needs. He has much more than all our needs.
1) Don’t be afraid to help: It is fear of the unknown that many of us are reluctant to get involved to help someone in his/her time of needs. We are not alone in doing any of that. God is always there to guide, to lead, to supply and support in meeting their needs through us. We may not have much, but God has all the resources to meet all needs. All we need to do is be willing to see, to feel and be compassionate to lend our hands to someone go through that moment of wants. God will take care the rest.
2) Give and shall receive: Why are there 12 basketfuls of bread and fish remnants? Who will have these 12 basketfuls of food? I believe the disciples will gather the food and brought them to where they lodged. Had them lost anything by getting involved in meeting the needs of the people? What spiritual lessons had them learned and how had their faith in Jesus been strengthened in doing this? You certainly don’t want to miss the opportunity next time when God calls on you to help someone.