Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Trusting Jesus for Provisions for Life and Ministry
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
Trusting Jesus for Provisions for Life and Ministry
Chapters 8 and 9 are about Jesus’ power and authority over every obstacle to ministry. It is no different in our present passage. Here Jesus demonstrates to his disciples that he has power and authority over provision/resources needed for ministry. He did this first by telling them not to take anything with them on their first ministry trip; now he does so by feeding a crowd of five thousand plus. This passage is about looking to and trusting Jesus to provide the necessary resources for us to minister to others.
This passage starts out with the apostles telling Jesus all about their first ministry trip. Jesus withdraws with them to someplace near Bethsaida. Jesus was attempting to get some privacy and rest with his apostles but when the crowds learned of it they followed him. Jesus welcomed them and spoke of the kingdom and healed those needing healing. We have noticed that Jesus’ life and ministry was centered on the kingdom and that is what he commands of us.
1. In the Natural we See Problems as Obstacles (vs. 10-12)
The obstacle that faced the disciples is that they have come off their first ministry trip, they are tired and needing rest and a crowd comes looking for ministry. As the day wears on, the disciples realize that there is no food or lodging for the crowd so they conclude that they need to send the crowd away. They are seeing, living, believing, and acting in the natural. They are not seeing with the eyes of faith; they are not walking or even ministering with faith. They assume that they have to provide out of their own resources or that the obstacle(s) facing them means that they should give up. How many of us look at life that way?
The disciples do not have enough food to give the crowd so they conclude that the only option is to send them away. The disciples see the food shortage as the crowd’s problem; Jesus sees the food shortage as the disciples’ problem! He commands them to do what is beyond their means to do. That is what God always does. What is impossible with man is possible with God. That is why we are born again by faith and live by faith; saved by faith and sanctified by faith. He provides the very means to fulfill what he commands. That is why his burden is easy and his yoke is light. God gives us a promise or command and with that comes God’s grace, His empowering presence, to believe, and faith produces obedience, God gives us the capacity to fulfill that command.
2. In the Kingdom Jesus see Obstacles as Opportunities (vs. 13-17)
In the kingdom obstacles are opportunities for God to provide; for God to act. Obviously this is not an absolute statement. Sometimes obstacles are God given sign posts that we are going in the wrong direction. But more often than not God allows or even brings obstacles into our lives as opportunities for God to display his power but too often we defend these obstacles as opportunities for our own unbelief. Too often we see an obstacle and we throw our hands up and give up when God wants us to push through in faith. We are to look to him when we face obstacles with the question, ‘Father what do you want to do and how do you want to do it?’ What is impossible with man is possible with God! What the disciples see as an obstacle Jesus sees as an opportunity to teach them about kingdom provision.
He commands the disciples to give the crowd something to eat. With eyes of unbelief, they tell him this is impossible, ‘we have almost nothing unless we go buy food and bring it back.’ Think of the logistics of going to town, finding a place to purchase food supplies to feed five thousand men (not including women and children) on the spur of the moment. Their conclusion is understandable in the natural. So he tells them to get into groups of fifty, he blesses what little food they have and then gives it to the disciples to pass out. Jesus is the mediator of blessing and provision - He is the one that provides the resources we need for life and ministry. He not only provides but he provides abundantly. Notice that everyone has eaten until they are satisfied and there are leftovers. God has always provided for his people and he continues to provide. A Jew who knew their bibles would have known the significance of this miracle.
So now the disciples minister to the crowd through the power and authority, provision of Jesus. The point is a tangible demonstration of Jesus power and authority to meet their needs for ministry.