Monday, January 7, 2008

You Feed Them: Mark 6:30-44

Mark 6:35-44

The conversations between Jesus and his disciples are often very revealing. To my benefit, the disciples are far from perfect, but always honest. To my greater benefit, Jesus is ready to take the disciples by the hand and help them understand.

Imagine the scene of Mark 6. Thousands of people—a crowd larger than any of the surrounding towns—has been listening to Jesus teach all day long. It is getting late and they need to eat. The disciples suggest that Jesus break class and let them find their way to food. It is a terrifically practical solution. The disciples are to be praised for thinking of other people ahead of themselves. One is hard pressed to find something wrong with it.

So Jesus says, “You feed them.”

The disciples respond, “You can’t be serious.” Jesus clarifies, “Oh yes, I am.”

Those may not be the exact words, but it is the tone of the conversation. In the face of their sincere practicality, Jesus asks the disciples to do something seemingly impossible. They see with one pair of eyes and one way of understanding, and Jesus is ready to change all that. When Jesus tells the disciples to feed the crowd, his theology comes into direct conflict with their practicality.

To demonstrate what he is after, Jesus asks for a really interesting thing. The disciples made it clear that they don’t have the resources to accomplish such a daunting task—it would take a year’s wages. Jesus asks them to bring him what they do have.

All they can scrape together is a meager five loaves of bread and two small fish. The situation is getting ridiculous. They are no closer to feeing the people than when this all started. Then they give the bread to Jesus.

Jesus took the bread, blessed it, and broke it, and broke it, and broke it. Not only did everyone get something to eat, everyone was completely filled and there were twelve baskets left over. There were not piles and piles of bread and fish left over, there was just enough for each imminently practical disciple to be left carrying a basket full of impossibility.

There is more power in our simple, humble gifts in the hands of Jesus than there is in a full year’s wages. There is more power in whatever meager thing I have to give Jesus than in all the sincere and good deeds I could muster through a productive and lengthy life. The catch is, I need to give whatever it is I have to Jesus.

Jesus does not ask me for what I do not have. Jesus does not ask me to become someone I am not before divine and meaningful things can happen. Jesus asks me for whatever it is in my hand to give him. It may even just be my brokenness, but He asks for it.

Give it to him. Then let him do with it what only he can do.

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