By, Isam Itson III
Matthew 14:14-18 –When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.”
One of the things that North Americans take great pride in is being “plain spoken”. We do not place much value on formal speech or manners in everyday life. We are busy, hard working, people who have important things to get done. Sometimes we forget the basic courtesies as we go about our daily lives.
We have a job to do. If we fail to say “hello”, “excuse me”, or “thank you” don’t hold it against us. We are just focused on getting things done. We don’t mean any personal offense. We are just average people doing the best we can for ourselves and our families. We don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do anything about the problems other people face. We can barely deal with the problems we face in our own lives. This outlook makes it very difficult for us to see that God intends to use us to meet the most basic needs of others.
According to Genesis 1:26-28, the “average” person, the “regular” person, is made in God’s image. We are all made to function as God’s co-rulers on earth. God made us to work together as agents of his wise, loving, and life giving presence throughout the earth. And God has given us everything we need to get the job done. This is what the authors of the scriptures mean when they refer to God’s people as priests and kings.
Every common person has been made by God and redeemed in Jesus Christ for royal responsibility as God’s ordained representative. We honor that truth when we take the time to see and acknowledge each other as we go about the business of our daily lives. This is how we begin
God does not just want to do amazing things. God wants to do amazing things for others through the people who trust him as their lord, savior, and provider. Like the disciples of Jesus in this point of the story, many followers of Jesus Christ today only look to God for their “spiritual” needs. We look to ourselves for our material needs. God is a part of our religious lives. Jesus is revealing that God is king over our whole life. God takes responsibility for meeting all of our needs as we give ourselves to doing his business in the world around us.
God created us for a full life on this earth as his co-rulers. God created us to take responsibility and help meet each other’s God given needs. Now he wants us to work together extending the impact of God’s way of life into more and more communities and societies. To take this step we need to experience God’s faithfulness to provide what we need to fulfill God’s purpose for us as we go about God’s business.
So Jesus leads us into personal and social situations that are impossible for us to manage by means of the resources at our immediate disposal. God leads us into situations that are too big for us to manage on our own or with the help of other people. God leads us into situations that only he can manage. Then God calls us to come alongside him and use what he has already provided for us as a part of his miraculous work.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are so often focused on what we lack, that we cannot begin to imagine being used as God’s primary instrument to bless others in situations beyond our immediate resources. Like the disciples, we often have prior experience of God stretching us and using us, (Mathew 10, Luke 9:1-6). And like the disciples, we need to be stretched further. That is what Jesus is doing in this passage. He is stretching the trust of his disciples in his ability to meet their most basic needs.
Jesus wants us to be moved with compassion like he is moved with compassion. He wants us to see the people around us and face their most basic needs. Then Jesus wants us to come to him with what we already possess, as paltry as it is in light of the size of the problem we are facing.He wants us to pray and offer ourselves as his instrument. Then Jesus wants us to do what he says, moving out with what He blesses. He may use us directly. He may use another one of his followers directly. Either way, he wants us to see others and be moved to act. The key is trusting God’s sufficient grace for the moment. We need to grow in faith regarding our own needs, and the needs of others. The multitudes were not fed forever; they were fed for the moment. They too would be challenged to continue trusting God for their provision.
God is the provider, not us. We are simply the instruments of his deliverance. Do we believe that with God’s help, we can do anything God calls us to do, as we follow his direction step by step? Even if he only reveals one step at a time?
1. Come to Jesus with the needs of those around us.
2. Pursue Him in prayer until He answers.
3. Obediently and faithfully, act on what Jesus tells us to do.