Devotional Stories to Help us Walk with Jesus:
You Feed Them!
We were tired—exhausted really! We just finished a whirlwind preaching and healing trip that Jesus sent us on—two by two. Added to that, Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, had just been executed by King Herod a few day ago. We were all pretty stressed by that event. Frankly, we barely had time to eat.
It was quite obvious to Jesus that we needed a rest. His words inviting us to rest-up a while was like a refreshing shower on a very hot day. It was just what we all needed. We all climbed into the boat and headed for a desolate place . . . or so we thought.
When we arrived at the desolate place, it was not. Someone saw us get into the boat and told the whole world that Jesus and His disciple were heading somewhere and to run after them on the shore and follow the boat. When we arrived, we were greeted by thousands of people. Jesus, having compassion on them as sheep without a shepherd, as He put it, began to teach them . . . and to teach them some more.
We looked at each other and wondered whatever happened to our rest-a-while time. Honestly, we felt a little annoyed. What happened to “our time?” Something seemed to be terribly wrong with this picture. We thought about the leisure and rest we were not getting in this desolate place. That day we learned that with Jesus there really isn’t a desolate place—a place where people in need aren’t!
Teachers seem to go on and on without being aware of the time of day. It was getting late and Jesus was still teaching. The other disciples looked at me and said, “Jude, please remind Jesus what time it is. It’s late and He should send the people away. After all, they (and we) are getting hungry and need to go into town to get something to eat.” (And, maybe, just maybe, we can then get the rest we need.)
That sounded like a reasonable request—a gentle reminder to the teacher. But, that gentle reminder really didn’t go too far. Jesus looked at me as the rest of the disciples gathered around. Without hesitating, He said, “You feed them!”
“You feed them!” We looked at one another in horror! How are we to do that. It would be like feeding an army with no food! Impossible! There were over five thousand men, plus women and children people waiting to be fed. We don’t even have the money to go into town to buy that amount of food. What does He expect us to do?
Cleverly, we thought, we’ll make a point to Jesus that it is humanly impossible to feed this many people. We found this boy who said he would like to help by giving his lunch—five small bread loaves and two dried fish. Nice boy!
“Thank you, son. Your mother gave that lunch for you to eat. Best you keep it.” We were convinced that this little boy’s offering would make our case. But, Jesus looked thoughtfully at the little boy’s lunch and said,
“Bring the five loaves and two fish to Me. That should be just about right.”
With those words Jesus directed us to have the crowd set down on the grass in groups of hundreds and fifties. We still didn’t have the foggiest idea what Jesus was going to do.
I am still not sure exactly what happened next. Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and the two fish and . . . and, suddenly, out of nowhere, there was enough to feed everyone—over five thousand, plus us twelve. Jesus gave each of us several groups of people to serve. That’s a lot of bread and fish to carry to hungry people.
After the meal was over and people began to leave, we thought, “At last, some time to kick back and rest!”
But Jesus said, “One more thing. The people had their fill, but have left some food behind. Go and collect the leftovers.”
What was left filled twelve very large baskets—waste not, want not! We loaded the baskets on board the boat and called it a day! Almost!
We wanted to rest. Jesus wanted to feed hungry people spiritually and physically. We were so focused on how we felt. Clearly, we wanted to get these people fed and on their way. But, being so centered on ourselves we obviously missed something—something very big and significant.
As we discovered later that night, we were standing right before the Glory of God. And, we missed it! We should have seen that, but we didn’t. Oh, yes, we knew Jesus as one who could turn water into wine and heal the sick, but on this day, we failed to see Him as the Bread of Life, God in the flesh. He was the same One who fed millions of His people every day for forty years in the wilderness with manna, the Bread of Heaven.
We still had something to learn as His followers—who He really is! I wonder how many more times it will take us before we see and appreciate that Jesus is God!
We did learn one thing. Walking with Jesus means being the unqualified who are often called to do the impossible. You feed them!
”Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in
Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20–21
Look for the next parable on November 6.
As an active member of the family at Trinity, Don is a regular contributor to Trinity’s weekly eNews letter. He enjoys writing and has authored several books, including “This Ugly Disease—A Caregiver’s Journey into Pain, Anguish and Hope.” With biblical insights, his writings provide spiritual encouragement for many. His son and daughter-in-law, Graham and Susan, are also members at Trinity.