I read this passage in my quiet time this morning:
When evening came, the disciples approached Him (Jesus) and said, “This place is a wilderness and it is already late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
“They don’t need to go away,” Jesus told them. “You give them something to eat.”
“But we only have five loaves and two fish here,” they said to Him.
“Bring them here to Me,” He said.
Then He commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, and looking up to Heaven, He blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets full of leftover pieces! (Matthew 14:15-20, HCSB)
This snapshot into a day in the life of Jesus and the disciples is very instructive.
1) All the disciples saw was a wilderness soon to be engulfed in darkness.
Jesus…God in human form…was standing right there with them, but their focus was solely on what they could see with their natural eyes.
Are your eyes only on what you can see? Or do you look at your circumstances through the powerful truth of God’s Word? The truths that say that He is and always will be in full control? that nothing is impossible with Him? that He will work ALL things to your highest good and His greatest glory? that you are an overcomer in His strength? that His Light always drives out the darkness?
2) The disciples told Jesus what the situation was…as far as they could see.
Have you ever done that? Have you ever gone to Jesus and laid out your situation for Him (as if He didn’t know exactly what was going on) and acted as if nothing could be done? After stating your case, have you stubbornly held onto your unbelief by silently thinking, “Not even YOU can fix this, Jesus!”
The disciples only saw one way out of this situation. No town was nearby, darkness was falling, and the people were hungry. So, they took charge and told Jesus what He had to do.
Haven’t you and I done the same? We explain our situation to Him, then tell Him what we think He should do and hope that He will bless our plan.
That is never a good idea, is it?
Clearly, the disciples felt they knew what was best, which was for Jesus to send everyone away to fend for themselves.
3) Jesus never sends anyone away who comes to Him with a need. Not ever.
As you read through the Gospels, Jesus is seen time and time again stopping to minister to anyone who comes to Him. He can always be found saying, “Come to Me! Come to Me! Come to Me!”
It may feel sometimes that you are on your own to face your problems, but if you know Jesus as your Savior, that is never the case. He is there, willing to mightily act on your behalf at your first cry of help.
4). Imagine the disciples’ astonishment when Jesus told them, “They don’t need to go away. YOU give them something to eat!”
Notice the first thing they say to Him: “BUT!”
When Jesus begins to tell you the way out of your difficult circumstance and it doesn’t sound like ANYTHING you want to hear or would ever do, is the first thing you say, “But Jesus!”?
The word “but’ means “to the contrary.”
How often do we live to the contrary of what Jesus plainly tells us in His Word?
He says, “Do not fear.” We say, ” This situation is terrifying to me! How can I not be afraid?”
He says, “Do not be discouraged.” We say, “Don’t You know how long this has been going on?! It’s just too much! I can’t handle much more of this!”
He says, “Do not worry.” We say, “What if? What if? What if?” and imagine all manner of terrible scenarios of how this thing might play out.
Don’t you get tired of arguing with Jesus when life gets hard? There truly is no point; it only adds to your stress. Listen to what He says and do what He says…even if it doesn’t make sense in the natural.
And in order to do that you have to…
5) Let Jesus be Jesus. He is not limited by anything. He is GOD. His ways are not our ways. His timing is perfect (and rarely matches our idea of perfect timing). He knows what He is doing. Nothing is impossible with Him. He truly is capable of blowing our minds if we surrender ourselves and our situations to Him. I have seen it time and again in my own life.
6). The disciples were focused on what they lacked…not on what Jesus could do with what they had.
Do you look at your life and see inadequate resources to deal with your current circumstances? Are you overwhelmed by the sheer depth of the need compared to your abilities?
Just as Jesus told the disciples to bring what they had to Him, hear Him today saying to you with regards to your concerns, “Bring them here to Me.”
Take whatever you have and bring it to Jesus. Lay it all at His feet and trust Him to be strong where you are weak, to fill you with hope when you feel hopeless, to give you fresh courage when you are quaking in fear. He will multiply your offerings to Him in ways you cannot imagine.
7) When Jesus told the people to sit down, imagine their sense of expectancy. What in the world was He going to do?
When we are waiting for something in our lives, we are not to wait with resignation, or with white-knuckled anxiety. We are to wait joyfully and expectantly to see what Jesus will do!
Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord! (Ps. 27:14)
Neither the crowd nor the disciples were disappointed with what Jesus did for them that day in the wilderness. It was more than they could have imagined…which is exactly what He promises to do for His own who wait for Him in full surrender: “superabundantly, far over and above all we dare to ask or think; infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.” (Ephesians 3:20)
8) Just as the loaves of bread had to broken to be of maximum benefit, so it is true with us. Until are hearts are truly broken by the weight of our sin and what it cost Jesus to save us from the horrible penalty of that sin, we can’t fulfill our true purpose for being on this earth: to bring glory and honor to our Savior, to show others the way Home.
As Jesus gave the bread to the disciples to give to the people, so we are to take what He has given to us and share that with a lost and dying world. He is the Answer to every question and the the Healer for every pain. People need to know and see that. He IS the very Bread of Life. Go and feed a hungry world with His Word. Let His Light shine from your life. Love like He loved.
9) Not only did everyone there eat until they were full, there were 12 baskets filled with leftovers.
Our God is a God of abundance. He is not stingy. He does not have to be coaxed into giving. He loves to give! The greatest gift He ever gave the human race is leaving the beauty of Heaven to come to this war-torn earth. He blazed across time until He fulfilled the purpose for which He came: to pay our penalty before a holy God. To open the gates of Heaven to a rebellious people. To give freedom for the captives. To give life to the dead.
Are you in the midst of a wilderness? A wilderness of sickness? Physical pain? Loneliness? Financial pressures? Heartbreak over unsaved loved ones? Rebellious children? Marriage difficulties?
Don’t look just at what you can see with your eyes.
Know by faith that Jesus is right there with you in that wilderness. .
You will NOT leave your wilderness empty-handed and hungry of soul if you give it all to Him.
Because you see, the wilderness is simply a vast stage on which you can watch Jesus transform that seemingly gray, cheerless, and barren place into an oasis of hope, color, joy, purpose…and LIFE in all its fullness.
If we let it, the wilderness can be a place of miracles.