The preacher was longwinded that day. His sermon had gone late into the afternoon and everyone was tired. The church board went up to the preacher and said, “You have to let these people go. They are exhausted.”
Does that sound familiar? Well, maybe it sounds like your longwinded preacher or maybe those from my church think it sounds like me 🙂 Well, it was Jesus. He was preaching in a remote place. The Bible says that there was about 5000 men not including the women and children and it was now late in the day. The disciples came to Him saying the people were tired and hungry and he needed to let them go so they could get something to eat. Jesus made it clear that he was not letting the people go.
“You feed them,” Jesus said to the disciples. They freaked out. “Seriously. Do you realize how much money it would cost to feed all of these people? Do you seriously want us to go somewhere and find food for all of these people and then bring it back to them. No, it’s time to let them go.” I love Jesus’ response:
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
The disciples were looking for every possible excuse to not try and feed these people, but Jesus takes a different perspective. What perspective do you take when problems arise. Do you see what the Lord has already given you towards the solution or do you simply throw up your arms in defeat and say it’s not possible? Hmmm…I just want to remind you in case you have forgotten – ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD!!
It is interesting that Jesus needs something to start with before He starts rolling out the continuous multiplication of the fish and bread. Didn’t He rain down manna from Heaven? Isn’t He the source of every good and perfect gift? Does He really need some kind of seed in order to produce miracles?
Of course not, this is how we join in the miracle. The Lord doesn’t simply want to do the miraculous for us. He wants us to partake in the divine nature accomplishing what is humanly impossible that we might dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven as it has come through the person of Jesus Christ. And this is done through giving.
Jesus took the bread and blessed it. Whatever we give to the Lord will be blessed. To be blessed is to be touched by God. The Lord releases His influence into that thing or situation. Maybe you don’t really like your husband today, give Him to the Lord that He might be blessed, touched of God, influenced by the Holy Spirit. He can not remain the same person he is today if the Lord is continually pursuing him through the Holy Spirit. The increased measure of the Spirit of God will force him to reject God or turn toward God. Most, when confronted with the love and grace of God, eventually turn to Him. Well, I have to stop there because this is not a marriage blog, but imagine what would happen. Give your teenager to the Lord. Give your boss to the Lord. Give your preacher to the Lord. Give your aunt Trudy who is always telling lies about you at the family gathering to the Lord. Try it and see what happens when people are continually placed in the presence of God. See what happens to your children as they grow up in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Obey the Lord in every way in all of your dealings with them and they will find themselves pressed upon by the Holy Spirit. But I digress 🙂
Then Jesus tells the disciples to put everyone into groups of 50’s and 100’s. He multiplies the fish and bread and then tells the disciples to give it out to the groups. Really? Are you telling me that Jesus could not have simply multiplied the fish and bread onto a plate in front of everyone of this crowd of around 15,000 including the women and children? Yes, I believe He could have done that. He can do whatever He wants. So, if He is able to accomplish His will in any manner He chooses, then we have to analyze why Christ does what He does. What is the purpose of the groups?
When Jesus has the people gather in groups, it causes everyone, or almost everyone to become a giver. The organization of it all creates somewhat of a group of conveyor belts where the bread and fish travelled down a path with each person passing it to the next until the last person of the group had received their portion. Then the person before them would keep the next portion so forth and so on until everyone had some fish and bread. They each gave away what had been given to them from the Lord. What has God given you? Do you share with others? Has He given you love? Do you share that love with others? Has He given you forgiveness and grace when you have really messed up? Do you then pass this forgiveness and grace to the next person?
Jesus could have fed the people anyway He chose. He could have made the fish and bread appear already in their stomachs without even taking a bite. He could have created a giant Luby’s right there in the remote place. He did what He did for a reason.
He was not addressing the hunger of the people, nor their fatigue. The purpose was not for them to eat, but for them to share what was given to them.
So many of us seek to receive from God. We pray and ask Him for everything in the world from world peace to winning the lottery. We pray that He would give us a better job, healing, more money, more peace, more stuff. We pray that He would give us resolution to problems and wisdom for solutions. And I think we get lost in this place of receiving. Miracles do not come from a posture of receiving. Miracles come from sharing what He has already given to us. The purpose of Christianity is not to receive from the Lord. No, the purpose of the Christian walk is to become like Him. Our prayers should be consumed with a desire to be like Him.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t ask Him for things. After all, we are taught in Scripture that we have not because we ask not. He intends to give to us and we must receive. It is what we do with what has been given to us that is the difference between an average life and an abundant life.
Let’s me add some application to what I am saying. When I get up in the morning and take a hot shower, it feels great. Especially when you consider that I have just started exercising again after so many years and I am waking up muscles sore. But as wonderful as a hot shower feels, it does not give life. It is not the water that touches me that gives life. It is the water I drink and take in.
The very nature of love requires it to be given away if it is going to be acquired. I do not have love unless I am loving. If I only receive the love of God, but hate the people around me, I will die of thirst. I might enjoy the wondrous moments of worship where His love overwhelms me, but unless I drink His love by giving it away, I thirst. Love is patient. How can I say I have the love of Christ if I am not patient? And patience is only patience when it is given to someone undeserving. The same it true for forgiveness. To know the forgiveness of God is like the refreshing spring waters jumped into on a very hot day. But to take in forgiveness. I must share it with those who have hurt me.
Two fish and five loaves of bread multiplied to feed 5000 men plus women and children. When we share what the Lord has given, it multiplies. If you think the love of God feels good during worship, start giving it away and see what happens. The revitalization of a ten minute hot shower will slowly turn into a complete spa day, spa week, spa year. A lifestyle of sharing the love of Christ will truly become a spa life.
I see that look on your face. Such disdain and disbelief. You don’t believe me! I can’t believe that after all we have been through together. Fine, let me give it to you another way:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Just want to warn you that any efforts to argue with me from this point on is an argument against God and trust me, you will not win that one!
The things of God are not of God until they are given away. The love of God, the mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, the compassion of God, the blessings of God…all that you have received, share it and let it be multiplied. The abundant life of Christ for you will never be found in receiving, but sharing. This is the purpose of the Christian walk. Start today even if all you have is a couple of fish and some bread.