Making the Most of Less
The focus in Bible class was the sixth chapter of John which described Jesus’ feeding of 5,000 people. Prior to this miracle, in Matthew 14:1-12, Jesus finds out that His cousin John the Baptist was executed by King Herod. At the same time, His disciples, who were sent out to preach the Gospel, had just come back to Him to give their account of what happened on their mission trips.
Taking a Break
With all the things that had just happened, one could imagined just how overwhelmed Jesus must have felt. Mark 6:30-31 explains that the disciples were so busy that they didn’t even have time to stop and eat. Jesus commanded His followers to stop what they are doing and following Him; it was time to take a break.
When doing the work of the Lord it can be really easy to get carried away in it all. When this happens, there is a danger of being physically burned out. Only God is able to keep going and going; we, on the other hand, are limited by our physical bodies. That is why the Lord invented the Sabbath and commanded us to keep it. When we don’t rest, we are not at our full potential for God.
No Rest When There’s Need
I can imagine that the disciples were very pleased that the Master called for a break. However, their vacation was short lived for as soon as they arrived at their destination, the people were already there. Now Jesus could have easily told the multitude to come back in a week or two, He and His disciples were on holiday. Instead, according to Mark 6:34, Jesus had compassion on them and went out to them and met their needs. He understood that they were in distress, like lost sheep with no shepherd to guide them.
Dutifully, the disciples followed Jesus’ lead; although I wonder if they were grumbling a little bit as they served. This was confirmed in Matthew 14:15-16 when the disciples asked Jesus to send the people away. Their reasoning was that it was late in the day and there was nothing in the countryside for the people to eat. I often wonder whether or not they were really concerned for the people but only wanted them to leave so that they could rest.
A Lesson to be Learned
Jesus was well aware that they were in a secluded place and that there was no food; this was all a part of the plan. Instead of sending the people away, Jesus commanded the disciples to have the multitude sit down as they distribute food to them. In verse 9 of John 6, we learn that the only food that was available was a boy’s small lunch of bread loaves and few small fish. In the hands of Jesus that was more than enough and all the people were fed.
Old Testament Flashback
A similar situation happen in the Book of Numbers. In chapter 11, the Israelites complained to Moses that they wanted food to eat. Before this crisis, God had provided the miraculous food called manna; but now the people were sick and tired of it and wanted meat. Despite seeing all the wonders of God, even Moses began to doubt the Lord and complained to Him. Like Jesus disciples, Moses in verses 21-23 only saw the vast multitude and did not believe that it was physically possible to give the people meat to eat.
God was quick to remind Moses that He was not a mere man that was limited by natural resources. The Lord did provide quail for the people to eat, but for their grumbling the people were inflicted by a plague that killed many of them. God warns us in His Word to not put Him to the test.
How often do we as followers of Christ look at a situation and see what can’t be done? We have a glass half-empty mentality because we only see the lack of resources; 5,000 starving people with only a small boy’s lunch to feed them for example. Such thinking weakens our faith and we must stop thinking what can’t be done and start thinking what God can do with so less. For God has a habit of taking what is less in human eyes and making it shine brighter than the sun.