The Christ-followers were genuinely concerned. They looked around and saw a huge need. Going to the Lord with their worry, they said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late… would you intervene and do something in the lives of the needy? Send them somewhere where their needs will be met.”
Have you looked around at what’s happening in our society lately? It seems a very apt description and meaningful prayer, “Lord, this place is spiritually very desolate and the hour is already really, really late…would You do something!? Take all these spiritually needy people somewhere, where their needs will be met.”
You’re absolutely right – and so were the disciples in their evaluation and reaction to the situation. But the Lord shocks them, and us, with a simple observation and command. We find the exchange in Matthew 14:15,16.
When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”
Did you catch the last phrase of verse 16? “YOU give them something to eat!”
“WHAT? Me provide for the spiritually needy? Me? But…” The disciples were just as nonplussed.
Doesn’t the Great Commission strike us with that same incredulity? “Go into this wide world and make disciples? Me? Is God kidding?” It’s a totally understandable reaction. And it’s exactly how the disciples felt.
So often when we see needs around us, we react with a deep concern and ask, “What is the Lord going to do about this?” And it’s very scary when we hear God saying, “YOU take care of it!” Let’s look back at what happens in Matthew. Most of us have heard the Sunday School tale where Jesus feeds the five thousand men, plus women and children.
My church, Silverdale Baptist Church here in Chattanooga, has just begun a time of prayer called “Pray In May.” We’re responding to the huge spiritual needs of ministering to our community. It’s overwhelming – there’s so much to do. We’d like God to just handle it, but He’s saying that it’s our call to go out, reach our city for Christ, and minister to a desolate people living in a late spiritual hour. What can we do? That’s exactly where the disciples were. And, just like us, they come to the Lord with their lack of resources…
They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” Matthew 14:17
When we see a need and know something should be done, we have a tendency to come to the Lord with statements like, “I can only do this…” or, “I only have this one small talent…” or even, “What can I do, I’m only one person.” We want to have God just take care of it. “Maybe the church staff could take care of it – that’s what we pay them for.” But Jesus says, “don’t send these people away to be someone else’s problem… YOU feed them!”
I’ve been thinking about the rest of the story. The disciples bring what they have – a crummy little supply of fish and loaves and Christ feeds the multitudes. Slow down for a second and ask yourself these questions. Where did the miracle happen? Did Jesus feed the crowd? No. The disciples did. The miracle happened in the hands of each disciple as he gave what he had out to the hungry mass of humanity.
Yes, Jesus blessed what they brought. But He just broke the food into twelve little pieces – then the disciples gave and gave and gave meeting the needs of thousands of people… with enough blessing left over for each of them to eat and be more than satisfied.
God wants us to bring our “only” to Him. Perhaps you can “only” smile and greet people at the church door. Maybe you can “only” hold a baby in the nursery, or “only” serve coffee, or “only” help in a small group, “only” serve on a short term mission trip, “only,” “only,” “only.”
God will bless that “only” and you’ll be blessed as He uses it for amazing results.
Spend the next three weeks asking the Lord where He wants you to use your “only.” He’s ready, are you?
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; Romans 12:4–11
Think about it…