The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Late in the afternoon his 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 nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”
But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!”
“How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.”
They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”
Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred.
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed from those loaves!
The apostles have returned from their tour and Christ sees the need for rest. Getting away to a quiet place for rest finds the crowd already there, some having run on ahead while they came by boat! Jesus has compassion and resumes work, as do the disciples. It gets late and everyone is hungry but they are in an isolated place. The disciples voice concern, Jesus tells them to provide. Caring, Compassion, Concern, Provision. All attributes of a shepherd taking charge of his flock.
Jesus did not just step up and take care of the need he saw, he involved the disciples. They had just returned from an assignment, continued to work alongside him upon their return. They were responsible for finding the resources to feed the crowd and for the distribution of the food and collection after. Jesus provided the power, they were the arms and feet, reaching and going. They were his voice speaking his word.
We are the church. He is the power behind us. He has the message; we share it. We care, have compassion, provide – he directs. We pass out the ‘food’ of the Word, sometimes the real food to the hungry, His power multiplies it. He works through us.
What is required for this to be possible? Our obedience, willingness to serve, and the foundational knowledge we receive from Him through His Word, teaching and prayer.
Let’s be active, sharing the message, doing what is needed to show care and concern. Let God’s Word be active and alive in us!