Feeding Our Faith

The story of the feeding of the 5,000 has always intrigued me.  It’s the only story recorded in all four Gospels. In a remote area, five thousand men (many scholars believe the number could be many more if you count women and children) gathered to hear Jesus speak. The day grew late, no one had eaten, and McDonalds was still 2,000 years away.

The disciples presented Jesus with the reasonable solution, “Let’s send everyone away so that they can go to the villages and get food.” Instead Jesus looks at them and says, “You give them something to eat.” {Insert panic attack here.} I can only imagine the thoughts going through their heads. Probably thinking that Jesus had finally gone cray cray (in today’s lingo). But He hadn’t, while the disciples were looking for the easy solution outside of themselves, Jesus was looking among them for the solution to grow their faith.

Let me be real for one moment… I always have a tendency to look for the quickest solution to a problem staring me down, handle it, and move on. Five thousand people were staring them down and a quick solution was at their fingertips, but quick and easy doesn’t mean right. This story challenges me that in ALL things we should seek God. Even if it seems like the answer is right before us.

We know the disciples immediately (again) went to the practical solution and counted up how much it would cost them to feed all the people. “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we really to go and spend that much?” I can only imagine the small smirk on Jesus’ face, as He knew what the real solution was. He redirects them again and says, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” Seems like a basic question, but let’s put it in real terms. The VBF sanctuary sits close to 3,500, so let’s double that space, fill every open space with people, remove the stage, remove all microphones, we’ll give you a mound so that you can see a little over the crowd. Now, I want YOU to go find out how many people have brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with them to church. Seems like a HUGE task that could take a lot of time. After a thorough search, they found the five loaves of bread and two fish. They didn’t give up.

I think after asking the first 500 and finding probably nothing, it would be so easy to give up. “There’s nothing here!” would probably pass through my thoughts again and again. But, they were obedient, having no idea what the future held.

Jesus orders the disciples to gather the crowd into groups of 50. Again, taking our previous image of the VBF sanctuary x2 filled with people, and now YOU are to take that number of people and break them up into groups of 50. Remember, they had just gone through the whole crowd. They knew the only food available were those couple loaves and fish. The scriptures simply said, “They did it.” They didn’t question what Jesus was up to, they started looking for something bigger than themselves.     

I sometimes have wondered why would he want them to be broken up into groups of 50? Wouldn’t that just take extra time for something that may not have been necessary? But after serving Jesus for some time, I have learned that when I am obedient in the small, maybe tedious tasks, He knows I can be faithful in the big things. If the disciples would have thrown up their hands and said “enough” with all these tedious tasks, they would have missed a HUGE miracle! Faithfulness (even when we don’t understand the “why”) is an essential part of our relationship with Jesus!

Jesus looks to heaven, blesses the loaves, and broke them in half. Here’s a key point we shouldn’t miss! He then gives the loaves and fish back to the disciples to distribute. He could have so easily had everyone come straight up to Him to get their food, but instead Jesus ministers to the crowd through the disciples.

Through all these faithful steps He had the disciples take, He knew they were loyal to them. He knew they would give Him the credit and that they would point the crowd back to Jesus. Because of this, they were the ones that were able to show the crowd the miracle. I’m sure Jesus loved to watch His disciple’s faces as they gleamed over the growing supply of food. Jesus desires to use us to bring miracles to fruition!

All ate and were satisfied. The disciples then went around and picked up 12 basketfuls of bread and fish. The result was a miracle of abundance.

Friends, I want a miracle of abundance in my life daily! I want to be overflowing with Jesus. I want people to encounter me and feel like they have encountered their Heavenly Father.  I want to bring God’s miracles into the world and would love him to use my hands and feet to do so. I know I’m on a journey to where I want to be, but I know it starts with faithfulness… even in the crazy things!

Praying for a miracle of abundance in your life today!

-Nicole Dickey