You Feed Them
Mark 6 tells us about what must have been a seriously long and tiring day for Jesus and the apostles. John the Baptist had just been executed and the apostles had just returned from their first preaching tour. They all needed some time away from the crowds to grieve and unwind, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (6:31.)
But the relentless crowd beat Jesus and the apostles to their retreat site and the original retreat itinerary was quickly forgotten. Jesus had compassion on the people, and he taught them "many things" (6:34). It began to get late, and the apostles asked Jesus to send the people away so that they could find something to eat. The original plan was to get away from the crowd, and the apostles wanted to do just that. Jesus had other ideas. He says, “You give them something to eat!”
They must have looked at Jesus like He was crazy. What did he mean? There were thousands of people there; it would take more money than they had ever seen to feed those people a single meal. They didn’t have the resources. All they could find were five loaves and two fish. Jesus told the apostles, “You feed them.” Then he took that sack lunch and fed the entire mob… with food to spare.
Jesus told the apostles to do what sounded to be impossible. “You feed them.” That was impossible as long as they thought they had to do it alone! How many fish would Peter have to catch to feed that mob? How many taxes would Matthew have to collect? How many Romans would Simon the Zealot have to waylay? In their wildest dreams they could not scrape together enough to do what Jesus asked. So all they could do was depend on Jesus. And then they did the impossible. They did feed the crowd— Jesus multiplied the food and gave it to them to distribute (v. 41). When they relied upon Jesus, they were able to do the impossible.
Do you think that there may be an application in there somewhere for us? You see, Jesus has given us some rather impossible "You feed them" commands as well.
- He tells us to one just as He and the Father are one.
- He commands us to love our enemies.
- He tells us to take the gospel message to the world
All of those things are totally impossible… if we trust ourselves to do them. No amount of political savvy or public relations will allow us to achieve unity by ourselves. We can watch Oprah and sing "We Are the World" all day and we'll never learn to love our enemies. All the latest church growth strategies in the world will never allow us to spread the gospel on our own. But if we trust God and look to him, he can use us to do all of these things.