While reading the gospel of Luke the other day, I stumbled upon a popular story that flashed me back to my childhood days. I’m sure we all know about the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand and the little boy who stepped out in courage. This story was a staple example for any Sunday school teacher, and as a child, it filled my heart with such truth of what it means to do “big things” for God.
But for the first time in my life I didn’t read that story from the perspective of the little boy, or as a crowd member witnessing and experiencing such a miracle, nor did I even focus on Jesus and the amazing miracle He performed. For the first time I was struck with profound insight over how similar I am to that of the disciples.
It’s this side of the story I share with you today. Luke 9:12-17:
Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
Did you catch the interesting word? Remote.
When referring to a place, a remote location implies the solution is somewhere else – somewhere bigger, somewhere better. Take for example a small town. How can a small town have the same opportunity to match that of a big city? The disciples assumed this “truth”, which led them to decide they couldn’t feed the people, which led them to conclude that because of this remote location they couldn’t be the ones to help, so they concluded they needed to send the people elsewhere.
When the word remote is applied to people – as in, us – the story becomes personal. It allows us to see ourselves in the disciples assumption, their hasty decision, and their misled conclusion, because we too react in these exact same ways when it comes to our talents, our abilities, our geographical locations, our spiritual positions, our ages and stages of life. We think of ourselves as remote.
As soon as a problem, a dream, a conflict, or an idea arises, we need to find someone who can do something about it – a parent, a teacher, a Pastor, a mentor, a leader. I mean, surely little ol’ me couldn’t offer the solution, surely I have nothing to offer, surely I have nothing to give, surely you’ve got the wrong person. So WE conclude – in hasty assumptive manners – that it’s probably best to go find someone cooler, prettier, wiser, smarter, taller, fitter, richer, better dressed and more talented.
But we know exactly how Jesus feels about their assumption because we read exactly how he corrected them.
He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
He isn’t looking for cool or pretty or wise or smart or tall or fit or rich or better… He is looking for availability and willingness. He is looking for YOU!
They answered (a.k.a Cindy answered, Rachel answered, Michael answered, Karen answered, Tim answered – insert your own name here) – “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”
But I don’t sing, I don’t hold any type of influential position, I don’t have any money, I don’t have people to help me, I’m terrified of public speaking, I’m really not all that smart, I have no creative ability – insert every and any other excuse you make.
But here’s what Jesus said to the disciples, and here’s what He’s saying to you and I today.
“Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
The solution? Jesus told them to break it down, literally. Jesus tells us each of us to take our eyes off the 5000 and start with 50.
Take the pressure off yourself and start small.
Start with one foot in front of the other.
For every step you take, offer one piece of bread, offer one bite of fish, offer one piece of yourself, offer one bite of your talent, offer one second of your time, offer one act of your obedience… and while you’re doing this, and while you’re believing in a big God, He will multiply your efforts.
Because He’s waiting to perform miracles on the other side of our obedience.