Tuesday, November 8th, 2022
The account of Jesus feeding the 5000 with naught but 2 fish and five loaves is among the most well known stories of Jesus’ ministry. But did you know that the purpose of it was not to establish Jesus’ own ministry, but to train his disciples for ministry? There are many teachable aspects to this account, but look to this one: though the disciples knew not how to feed the flocks, Jesus still commanded them to do so (v.16–“They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.”). So how did they accomplish this? As Mark’s Gospel recounts, they organized the people into orderly groups all along the mountain. They brought what they had to Jesus to be blessed, and then their job was to simply, but exhaustingly, trek up and down the mountain, collecting food from Jesus and delivering it to the groups. What is interesting is that despite being recorded in all four gospels, none can say how Jesus multiplied the food (other than blessing it) nor did any disciple see it happen. What does this tell us about ministry? Jesus communicated to his disciples the difficulties of it (trekking up and down a mountain), but more importantly, that what they see as simply being a server, a waiter, is actually taking part in a miracle. Even though they could not see the miracle happening, it was. It was only after all were fed that they could see the miraculous work of the Lord. Finally, and most importantly, Jesus communicated to his disciples that the key to ministry is continually returning to Jesus for refilling. We cannot serve others in Jesus name if we are not continually returning, personally, to Jesus in expectation of refilling. Today, if you are in ministry, keep serving and returning daily to the Lord. If you are not, see that the key to ministry is not in what we can provide ourselves but what we can bring to others from the Lord, even if we do not understand it all in the moment. Ministry is not about what we can provide to others but how Jesus can provide it through us.
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” — Matthew 14:13-21 NIV