It’s amazing to me how I can read a story that I’ve heard since childhood and God speaks to me in a whole new way. Mark chapter six tells the familiar story of Jesus feeding 5000+ people. As I read this passage recently, I saw it from a different perspective. I’ve considered it from the perspective of the masses and even Jesus’ desire to feed and minister to them, but I had not seen it from the disciples view. As I read verse thirty-five, where they tell Jesus that they are in a desolate place and he should send the people away to “buy themselves something to eat”, I almost sensed a tinge of frustration. They had probably been traveling all day (not in air conditioned comfort, like we do), they were most likely hungry themselves (since it was dinnertime), and I would imagine they were coming to the end of themselves. Haven’t you been there? The moments when you’ve given all you’ve got, and you just need to pull away from the “crowd” or sometimes even the person that is sucking the life out of you. Jesus knew the disciples needed this, but first, He wanted to do something miraculous, even in their weakness or lack of resources.
If you remember the story, instead of sending the people away, Jesus told the disciples to feed them. What? Almost sarcastically, the disciples said, in verse thirty-seven, “Shall we go and buy 200 denarii (this would be the equivalent to about 200 days wages – a LOT of money) worth of bread and give these people something to eat?” The reason I hear sarcasm is because it was obvious, by the question, that it was more than the men had. It would have been impossible, from their perspective. Even if they had this kind of money on them, based on the description Mark gives in verse thirty-five, it was a desolate place, so they would have had a long hike to even get to the food, not to mention, the impossibility to even transport that much food back. Do you see the insanity of what the disciples were asking, or should I say what they were being instructed to do?
Yet, as the story unfolds, we see Jesus do the miraculous, feeding more than 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two measly fish. Now, you would think this would be a remarkable moment for the disciples, but I think they missed the miracle in this moment and the message behind it. I know this, because in verse fifty-two, it says that they “failed to consider or understand the teaching and meaning of the miracle of the loaves; [in fact their hearts had grown callous -become dull and they had lost the power of understanding].” Could this be because of their own frustrations, fatigue, hunger, or the simple reality that they personally had nothing more to give to the masses and just wanted to pull away from them? Seriously, at first, I asked myself, how in the world could you miss a moment like that? Then, however, I considered the wonders all around me, the moments filled with His miracles, yet I miss them, because I am frustrated, exhausted, or I feel like I have nothing left to give. It’s in these moments that God wants to show us the message behind all His miracles. Can you guess what that is? It’s the message of Who He is. Mark 6:50, just before we are told how the disciples missed the miracle and message of the loaves, Jesus comes to them, as they are being tossed on the sea in a boat, and He says to them, “Take heart! I AM! Stop being alarmed and afraid!” WOW! Could that be the message he was trying to tell them just hours before, as they were tired and ready to send the crowd away, they were hungry and frustrated by their lack of resources, and completely at the end of themselves, yet Jesus was asking them to continue to serve. He wasn’t asking them to give more. He had the resources, He was simply asking them to continue to be available to what He was doing, resting in the reality of the I AM!
This passage, for the first time, has me evaluating the moments around me, where He, the I AM, is miraculously showing me that He is enough. I don’t have to conjure up more to give. I just have to remain available to let Him work through me, and I need to have the right spirit so that I don’t miss the message in the miracle. You see the disciples did, in fact, serve the food, as Jesus dished it out that day, more than 5000+ serving to be exact. This is encouraging to me, because it reveals that Jesus will use me, even if I’m not understanding or I’m totally missing the message. It also challenges me, though, because it reveals that I can be serving, surrounded by the miraculous, but miss the message in the miracle.
What is it for you? Is it a hard relationship, where you think you’ve given all you can, but God is wanting to show you Himself through your own weakness? Is it an opportunity where you don’t have the resources needed or you aren’t capable, in and of yourself? May we all allow the I AM to be all that He desires to be in our lives, and may our hearts be open, even when we’re depleted, so that we don’t miss the message of the miracles that surround us this week.