Jesus Feeds 9,000
“‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered. Jesus replied, ‘Bring them here to me.'” Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-38
Up until recently, I never had a need or an opportunity to apply these verses to my life. However, since I have been unemployed for a while, I am starting to read Scripture differently, because I am starting to doubt my own resources.
As I search, seek, and ask God about my next assignment, I cannot help but wonder about my skills and talents and why so many churches and businesses have no interest in employing me. I do not have an answer at this time, but it has driven me to look at Scripture in a different light lately.
Because my primary spiritual gift is teaching, I have spent years reading the Bible mostly for those things I could teach from the pulpit or in the Sunday school class. However, since those two forums have recently (and, I pray, temporarily) dried up, I have resorted to reading Scripture not so much for how I can apply it to your life, but for how I can apply it to mine! Yes, I should have been doing this all along, but I am a little slow on the uptake. Just like the disciples in these two passages. Perhaps this is why these stories bothered me as I read them this morning; they hit too close to home.
In the first passage, the disciples show their concern for the crowd, but in a selfish way. They know they need to eat, but the disciples do not want to take responsibility for this task and ask Jesus to send them away. Not missing a beat, Jesus says, “That isn’t necessary – you feed them” (14:16 NLT).
However, the disciples reply by saying they do not have adequate resources. “But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish!” they tell Jesus.
“Bring them here,” Jesus says.
At that point, I stopped reading.
I am feeling a bit like the disciples. I know I have some resources, but they seem so meager and inadequate for the task. It is all too overwhelming for me. People need to be fed and taught and discipled and trained to do the work of ministry, and all I have is a little Bible training and a passion to teach.
“Bring them here,” Jesus tells me.
And I know what will happen when I do. He will take the little I have and bless it and make it adequate for the job He has assigned for me. Feeling better about myself – if not a tad rebuked – I continued reading.
Now I come to the second story, the feeding of the 4,000 (5,000 plus 4,000 equals 9,000, hence the title, if you were wondering).
In the second passage, Jesus has to tell the disciples of His compassion for the hungry people and guides the disciples into an understanding of the people’s need to eat. The disciples respond by wondering where they could find enough food to feed everybody. Jesus takes them a step further and asks them what they have on hand. “Seven loaves, and a few small fish,” they reply.
Once again, Jesus asks for their limited resources, blesses it, returns it to the disciples and has them distribute it to the people. Much to their amazement, the disciples discover that not only were 4,000 men fed, but like before, there were baskets full of leftovers.
I stopped reading again. This one not only hit home, but also destroyed it.
I have often prided myself on my ability to read Scripture, understand enough of it to apply it in a situation, and find a way to teach it. But this second story, coming so quickly after the first, reminds me how often I have to learn the same lesson numerous times. I used to shout at the disciples, “Why are you so dense? Didn’t you get it the first time?” Now I leave the disciples alone and ask myself the same questions.
So what are the lessons for me? (I don’t know about you. Go get your own lessons.).
1. Jesus knows my limited resources.
2. Jesus asks me to bring my resources to Him.
3. Jesus blesses my resources beyond my comprehension.
4. I may have to learn this lesson more than once.
Fortunately, there will come a day when Jesus will send me out to feed the hungry, heal the sick, teach new disciples and bring glory to His name. I only pray that I don’t have to learn this lesson too many times. I’m tired of being unemployed.
So, is another lesson here … do we really “trust” him to feed us and supply our needs? I think that sometimes we have to go down the path again because we didn’t really trust Him the first time. Your time to feed, heal, and teach will come … at God’s directed time. I only say this as I too am living the unemployed life and reading scripture differently. Thank you for this! God Bless and grant you favor.
Thanks for the encouraging words. Although I wrote this article at a time I was truly unemployed, I do have a job now. But it is just a job; it is not my heart’s passion. I thank God for being employed, but I still look forward to marrying my purpose/passion with my provision. But you are right. It is interesting how we read Scripture differently when our circumstances change. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Feel free to comment any time.
I’m in the process of planning a Natioal day of prayer for the millions of people that are unemployed. I believe the word and I know that Only God can bring about the change. The rates that we are getting from the unemployment office is the number of people with claims what about those who have RAN OUT of benifits. If you have feedback I’m willing to listen.
I didn’t stay unemployed for long. In fact, I never have. I believe there are jobs available for those who truly want to work. It may not be for the wages they once made or for what they want to do, but jobs are available. However, please do not forget the point of my article. It wasn’t about unemployment, but about God’s ability to make something from nothing, including me.
I enjoyed this blog. I am working on my lesson. My boyfriend has been unemployed and seems to have been hit with every obstacle along the way. It has been so hard since he hasnt had any work and we have been praying for work for him and he has applied so many places and nothing so far. Any tips, scriptures for us? Please keep us in your prayers.
Thanks for your comments. The Scripture that comes to mind is Prov. 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT). The first mistake most people make is assuming they’re trusting God with ALL their heart. That is a very difficult thing to do. We like to give God the parts of our heart we’re confident of, or the parts we don’t think are vital, or the parts we could do without. But it says, “all your heart.” This means the doubts, fears, pride, selfishness, hopes, dreams, ambitions, etc. Don’t hold anything back. God created man to work, which is why He gave Adam something to do in the Garden BEFORE the Fall. Working is not a necessary evil that has been thrust upon mankind because of the original sin. Since work is a gift of God, then there is a good and spiritual reason for working that goes beyond getting a paycheck and being able to buy food and toilet paper! Sometimes unemployment can teach us the spiritual side of working that being employed never affords us.
Next, don’t trust you know why you’re unemployed. You may want to blame your former boss (which is tough if your self-employed!), or the economy or the President. Many times it is none of those. Keep your judgments to yourself and trust the Lord has His purposes in this season of life.
Then we must seek His will in all we do. And that means “all” we do. If we’re unemployed, we like to seek Him for a job but don’t always ask Him if we’re in the right city, or if that relationship pleases Him, or if He’s calling us to another vocation or further education. Perhaps God has been instructing us for years to go a particular direction in ministry and we’ve withheld because we were comfortable in our job. Now the job is gone and we’re free to obey God but we still hesitate. The possibilities are endless, but the point is to seek Him in absolutely everything we do. We cannot look to God to supply our needs if we are not allowing Him to be God in every area of our life. 99% obedience is 100% disobedience.
Finally, believe that He will direct your path. Never stop looking for that right place. Get up every morning and choose a good attitude and seek the Lord and keep looking for that job. You may have to take a job you don’t want — a job that pays less than unemployment. But I’d rather have a job that pays me less than staying at home than to disobey Scripture and allow society to pay me not to work when I’m capable. I’ve never met a fast-food restaurant that isn’t turning over enough employees to take me on. I’ve ALWAYS found work. Not always work I wanted, but I knew it was as spiritually important to work as it was financially important to bring home a paycheck.
I hope this helps. You are in my prayers.