Luke 9:11-17 (CEV)
11 But a lot of people found out about this and followed him. Jesus welcomed them. He spoke to them about God’s kingdom and healed everyone who was sick.
12 Late in the afternoon the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, “Send the crowd to the villages and farms around here. They need to find a place to stay and something to eat. There is nothing in this place. It is like a desert!”
13 Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.”
But they replied, “We have only five small loaves of bread and two fish. If we are going to feed all these people, we will have to go and buy food.” 14 There were about five thousand men in the crowd.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Have the people sit in groups of fifty.” 15 They did this, and all the people sat down. 16 Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and fish and handed them to his disciples to give to the people.
17 Everyone ate all they wanted. What was left over filled twelve baskets.
There’s Nothing Left
Context is so important as we’re reading through this book. This story doesn’t happen in an isolated vacuum. Remember Monday, how they disciples had been sent out on their first missions trip? Remember Wednesday how Herod was ‘eager’ to find out more about Jesus? How the political pressures were increasing around them? Remember yesterday how they had come back and Jesus had attempted to draw them away so that they could rest and recover and talk through their experiences?
But then the crowds had followed them.
Then Jesus had welcomed them.
Then they had spent the day healing and teaching and doing.
And remember how I said yesterday that when we do and do and do too much without stopping for contemplation and rest and reconnection that we get exhausted and we run out of energy and resources and come to the conclusion that there’s nothing left???
Well, that’s the point where the disciples have come to.
Jesus asks these men who have healed and delivered people of demons and preached the good news of the Kingdom to provide food for the people in front of them, and they forget that they are part of a Kingdom of plenty. They forget that they are the disciples of a guy who can make dead people come back to life and make blind people see again. They forget that God’s love and power are big enough and strong enough and complete enough to take care of the problem in front of them, and instead conclude that there’s no way to deal with this problem.
Sometimes, even when we are trying our best to balance doing with coming back there will still be moments when something unavoidable shows up. When the need pushes in past our best of intentions. When our kid gets a stomach bug, a friend calls in tears or the sirens start to blare and we need to respond. Loving people isn’t something that can be neatly compartmentalized, organized into our schedules or carefully planned ahead for. We need to come away with Jesus on a regular basis, but what happens when life breaks in and needs us to love and we don’t have anything left?
That’s when Jesus responds, and into the exhaustion and the forgetfulness of the disciples’ reality, he simply starts taking care of the problem. “Here are your instructions … just listen to my voice, and it’ll all be okay … I know you’re tired and worn and feel like there’s nothing left to get through this on top of everything else you’ve done this week, but it’s okay, we’re going to do this together.”
And then he does what he said he would do. And the disciples do what they’re asked to do. And even this utterly insurmountable one more thing gets done.Journal Questions:
- Have you ever felt like your capacity to love has been pushed beyond its breaking point?
- What do you do then?
- The disciples go to Jesus with their problem, and then they listen to his response, and follow what he tells them to do. What would it look like for you to do that?
- Do you know yourself well enough that you can tell when you’re at the end of your rope and admit it to Jesus so that you can ask for help?
- Do you practice talking with Jesus often enough that you will recognize his voice if he starts to give you instructions?
- Does the fact that Jesus will provide when there’s nothing left to give change the necessity of taking time to come away on a regular basis? Or does it actually make it more important?