“By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.'” (Mark 6:35-37)
Jesus was teaching his disciples a very important lesson in the text above. It was late in the day and the disciples were tired and hungry. Their plan was to rest in this remote place before a large crowd showed up. I am sure the disciples would have loved to see the crowd scatter for the night. Jesus, however, had compassion on the crowd and began teaching them.
Even if there was some selfishness in the hearts of the disciples, they were also worried about the crowd of people getting food. Their request was legitimate. “Jesus, we aren’t sure if you noticed, but it is pretty late. There is no town super close to here so maybe give these people a head start on dinner.” Jesus threw them a curveball. He is throwing us a curveball as well. “You give them something to eat,” He said. I am sure this was not the response the disciples were expecting.
Jesus will often do to us exactly what He did in this moment with the disciples. First, He gave them eyes to see a legitimate need. Second, He basically asked them, “What are you going to do about it?” Jesus did not want the disciples to pawn this crowd off on a surrounding village. He was teaching the disciples to meet the needs that they can meet. We often think, “Someone else will take care of that.” Jesus meets us with the question, “What can you do?”
Friend, there are needs that God will put around you that only you can meet. Think about how crazy that is. The God of the universe chooses to use us to meet needs. Do you notice these needs, or are you too busy trying to get rid of the crowd? We often want the next village to take care of the needs that we see. However, many times the next village cannot do what you can do.
Take some time to identify needs that you are uniquely positioned to meet. Maybe there is a neighbor that does not like to chat with most of your neighborhood. For whatever reason, you seem to be on his good side. What can you do? Maybe there is a family in your life with a financial need that you can meet. It may be easy for you or it may require sacrifice. What can you do? Start praying for eyes to see needs. Then, no matter the cost, choose to step in and help.
There will be many times when a need will present itself at the worst possible time. At least this is how we see it. God often does this to test our hearts and push us out of our comfort zones. The disciples were tired and hungry. They wanted to call it quits for the night. Excuses, and even legitimate questions, run wild when we do not feel like stepping up. The disciples were quick to fire off a response back to Jesus.
“They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?'” (Mark 6:37)
Do you see what they are doing? Can you relate? It is not uncommon for Jesus to ask us to do something crazy or seemingly impossible. The crowd they needed to feed consisted of more than 5,000 people. No one would blame the disciples for the question they asked. However, what if the better response is to just trust God with what He said? Our earthly mindsets and limited thinking hinder radical obedience, but God gives us stories like this one to help us break through those barriers.
Do not talk yourself out of it when God tells you to give away a sum of money or a prized possession. Do not think of a way to soften the blow by being partially obedient. Do not pretend that you heard God wrong, hoping that He will choose someone else. He might ask you to do something when you are tired. He might ask you to do something when you are in a hurry and have no extra time. He might even ask you to do something financially radical when the bank account is dwindling. However, the final point is this: when you choose to be obedient, God will meet you there with power.
“‘How many loaves do you have?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’ When they found out, they said, ‘Five – and two fish.'” (Mark 6:38)
Earlier, Jesus basically asked the disciples, “What can you do?” Now, He asked them, “What do you have?” Why is this significant? It is huge because Jesus does not ask us to be more than we are. He does not ask us to have more than we have. All He does is tell us to be obedient. He does the rest. We, then, get the joy of seeing a need being met and God moving in power.
You probably know the rest of this story. Jesus took the bread and fish and fed over 5,000 people, with twelve basketfuls of leftovers. This was clearly a miracle. Did the disciples have to produce all of this food? No, they simply needed to obey and bring what they had. This is the beautiful design of God. We bring the little that we have, and God blesses it and uses it to meet needs around us. God will give you the words. God will bring the provision. God will empower the action after we choose to obey.
So do not wait or make excuses, brother or sister. Do not let your tiredness, hunger, lack of time, or any other excuse hinder your ability to meet needs around you. If you will be obedient, God will take what you have and use it in supernatural ways. You may meet a small need, or you may meet a massive need. All of them count. We live in a world full of needs. God chooses to work through us to meet them. Pray for eyes to see them. Jesus might just nudge you and say, “What can you do? You give them something to eat.”