19 July 2010

Jesus Resources The Help

Image - Feeding of the 5000 by Tissot
John 6:1-15

The problem for Jesus' apprentices is never a lack of resources.  There may be a problem with lack of generosity or poor stewardship, but any group of Jesus' disciples trying to carry out Jesus' mission that Jesus has entrusted to them will never be stopped purely by lack of resources.

How important is it for future generations of Christians to know this account from Jesus' ministry?  The "Feeding of the 5000", "The Triumphant Entry" on Palm Sunday and Jesus' predictions of Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial are the only events within Jesus' ministry that are recorded by all four gospel authors (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

The time starts by an exhausted yet excited group of twelve disciples coming back to report to Jesus, who had also been ministering from town to town and mourning the death of his friend, on the job he had sent them out to do.  But, the crowds quickly found them.  So, they moved to the east side of the lake.  But, the massive crowd followed him.

Where else were they going to go or do?  If you had been healed and forgiven by this extraordinary man, wouldn't you follow him wherever he went?  What would be more important?  What other things in your life could possibly tear us away from what we are seeing with our eyes?  They had friends and family who desperately needed the help that only Jesus and his disciples were providing?  Where else would they going to go?

Jesus, despite his sorrow-laden fatigue, has compassion for the crowd and heals the sick.  But, in their exuberance in finding Jesus, they forgot to bring basic provisions for the journey.  The disciples want to do the prudent thing and send them away so they can get some grub.  The master teacher, however, sees the chance to teach his disciples an important lesson.  "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?"

I don't know whether it was desperation or futility that drove Andrew to point out the boy who apparently offered his five loaves and two fishes to a crowd of over 5000.  Wouldn't it have been cool if the boy ("The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.") who had seen Jesus help himself and/or his friends and family, who had seen Jesus give sight to the blind, who had seen Jesus heal the lame and cleanse lepers, who had probably heard about Jesus calming the storm, confidently and logically offered his meal knowing Jesus could feed such a crowd with it?

Here's a key point in following Jesus:  He never gives us a job that we cannot do.  He never asks us to do what cannot be done.  The only question after Jesus calls us to do something is whether or not we will do it NOT whether we can do it.  When our Father in heaven gives us a mission, He wants it done even more than we do.  Further, when our Father in heaven gives us a mission, He wants us to do it for our growth, for our faith and for its results.

And just to further drive home his point to his disciples, he asks them to gather the leftovers.  After he has resourced them and requested their help in feeding the crowd, they come back with one basket full of food for each of them.  Our Lord understands our needs, including our physical needs, and provides for us as well.  "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Father, thank you for being the good boss who always ensures that your workers are paid for the work that you have given to us to do.  

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