When Jesus saw the large crowd in Matthew 14, He had compassion on them. He took time to care for them and heal them. When it was time to eat, He turned to His disciples and gave them a simple directive. You feed them, and the disciples found the resources to do just that with a bit of supernatural help. Jesus still calls us to serve the lost, lonely, hopeless, and hurting. He is inviting you to bring your limited resources to be used in His eternal kingdom life.
A Crowd of Lost And Lonely People
Tim Keller offered this thought on today’s church, “The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.” When Jesus saw the crowd, His heart broke. His response was compassion. The American church has done better at condemnation than compassion. We have often used the Bible, even Jesus’ words, to prop up our agenda and fight a culture war. Tim Keller notes that we are to be like Jesus and carry His message, yet the church often stumbles when trying to carry out this mission.
The disciples saw all the logistical issues when they looked at the crowd. Jesus saw the possibilities. The world we live in has its dark and broken moments. But when we see with the eyes of Jesus, we also see all the possibilities. Politicians can paint the American landscape as one of darkness and despair. The disciples certainly understand the hopelessness of their situation. They decide the best course of action is that the crowd should fend for themselves. Send them away, and let them figure out dinner on their own. The need was so big, and the disciple’s resources were so small. People should have known better and prepared for a long wander away from the bright lights of the local McDonald’s. What could the disciples do if the people didn’t think to pack provisions? That was the crowd’s fault.
You Feed Them
Do you think the disciples laughed when Jesus told them to feed the crowd? How do you imagine the command might have been received? Those who had already counted the people and then counted the provisions, do you think they scoffed at Jesus’ ridiculousness? Did Jesus smirk when the disciples brought the five loaves and two fish as an example of how little they did have? Before giving the disciples such a hard time, we should stop and meditate on the areas in our lives and churches that Jesus calls us to feed the crowds. May God reveal to our hearts the places where we have decided the cost is too great and the resources too little. Where in our lives are we seeing only problems, and Jesus wants to show us the possibilities?
We are called to be people of hope. Jesus chose the church to be the salt and light. We are to be the very present reality of God’s love for now and into eternity. Every day that we have breath in our lungs is a chance to further proclaim God’s goodness and glory. Wake up tomorrow, offer your resources (your loaves and fishes), and see what God will do. God delights in working with His children to advance His kingdom and glory. So don’t miss out on the chance to respond when Jesus taps you on the heart and says, “You feed them.”
What If It Doesn’t Work?
Whenever I talk with creative people (artists, authors, and even preachers), I think one of the common themes that has to be dealt with is the fear of failure. What if I try to love my neighbor, and my neighbor doesn’t care? And am I a fool to think I could make a difference in this world? One of the ways that those who are successful at completing works of art or writing books, or seeing major changes in the world around them is they change their mindset. They accept that failure is a possibility but deny the idea that it is the only one. They begin to dream about all the good things that could happen and realize that working toward that outcome is worth the risk of failure.
Jesus calls each and every one of us to the mission field. First, in our homes. Then our neighborhoods. He calls us to bring our towns love, joy, and peace. Every day we can join in with God and see the possibilities over the problems. We have the privilege of participating in the abundant kingdom while surrounded by a world that is afraid there is never enough. So let’s go; ask God to show us where He is calling. Take a deep breath and hear Jesus say, “You feed them.”