It’s probably illegal to fish for that response to a direct order in a job interview. There are certain things you cannot ask of an employment prospect. Are you pregnant? How old are you? Are you in debt? Do you drink or smoke? Who did you vote for? Those are verboten questions…
Jesus was in a three-year interview with 12 guys, trying them out for historic positions in his international startup, with plans to make them initial stockholders in the most successful enterprise launched in the history of mankind. The crucial quality he was looking for: unrestrained faith in him; when he asked them to do the impossible, he expected them to act as if it was reasonable. Reason: he would never ask them do to anything that he wasn’t prepared to resource for them.
It’s midway through their 36 month field trials, and they had seen Jesus do amazing, inexplicable things. He wasn’t a one-trick carnival huckster; every problem seemed to bring yet another opportunity for him to create outcomes that left solutions in his wake.
The four biographers whose books lead-off the New Testament all included their account of this event in their stories (that’s of note: only two included Christmas!):
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:14-21)
The Feeding of the Five Thousand: in the interests of accuracy, the headcount that included women and children probably pushed the crowd north of 10,000. Once you’re in miracle territory, what’s a few thousand more?
The setting: away from town – and all basic services – with a crowd too big to address without a sound stage. A line-up of sick people getting their moment with the Master; drive-through healing.
I’ve heard Christians ask it, for years: “What is God’s will for me?” That’s a risky question; people who get their answer are faced with an intriguing conundrum: when you know what he wants you to do… will you do it?
Thousands of hungry people. A compassionate and magnetic grassroots celebrity whose fame has grown around his abundant provision of generous solutions for needy people. He has his posse of 12 followers who handle the details. His direct command to them: “You give them something to eat.”
Simple instructions, but their reaction is telling: “Yeah, but…” There it is! “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish.” John’s version of the story carries an interesting footnote: the 5/2 wasn’t even theirs: they lifted it from a kid whose mom sent him to the meeting with lunch-for-one in his bag. Jesus reaction to their reaction: “Give me what you have…”
The great take-away: once you know what God wants you to do, just give him what you have. Here’s a principle: God’s will for you will always require you to defy the “Yeah, buts.” If it makes sense, it doesn’t make faith. Just give him what you have, and watch miracles happen.
Where are you stalled today, halfway between knowing your orders and a miracle-in-the-making? Drop the “Yeah, but…” and get ready to pick up the left-overs!
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