Saturday, April 20, 2013

How Many Loaves Do You Have?

Matthew 6:7-12, 30-44~~~

They were not just sent- they were sent two-by-two. He commanded they take only a staff; no bread, no money, not even a change of clothes. They were given power and released. Sent to proclaim truth. So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them (Mark 6:12-13).

What a mission trip it was! What a season of growth and faith building. They experienced the power of God through them in a way you and I could never imagine. The twelve would never be the same.

Upon their return they surrounded the Sender, rejoicing in what they had done and what they had taught.  Their Master celebrated in their excitement, but didn't neglect their weariness. "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

In a world full of need and want, there is no escape for Jesus. The crowd pursued and when Jesus saw them, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

The day turned to evening, the crowd turned to thousands, and the disciples began to worry. "This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat."

"You give them something to eat."

Their response seems a little sarcastic- maybe prideful? "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?"

It was the same twelve. They taught. They healed. They cast out demons. And now they were done. Send them away Lord, and let them take care of themselves. It seems that from the moment they returned, praising themselves for the work they had done, they began taking their eyes off the One that empowered them, sent them, healed and spoke through them.

"How many loaves do you have? Go and see." It looked hopeless and impossible. Just five loaves and two fish, and over five-thousand hungry souls. 

And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them.

Jesus performed the miracle. He did the breaking. They did the serving. He does the miraculous, and simply allows us to participate. How is it we ever neglect to see this? How can we ever view our good works, our service to God, as some great feat we have accomplished by our own strength?

Do you praise the hammer that drives the nail, or the man that swings that hammer? Do we boast in ourselves for miracles and good works or in God for using a simple, insignificant tool; a tool that is here today and gone tomorrow?

They mustered up a measure of faith and walked into the crowd with a broken piece of bread. It was no longer a question of how to feed hungry people, but a lesson in trusting the Giver to multiply the gift. And multiply the gift He did! So much so that they fed five-thousand men plus women and children. 

They didn't feed only to satisfy their hunger. It wasn't just enough to get them by until they returned to their homes. No, they fed them so they all ate and were full.

And the Giver didn't stop there. Afterwards, the twelve took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.

He didn't leave them hungry. He didn't simply satisfy. He didn't just meet the need. He provided exceedingly abundantly above all they could ask or even imagine. The people were hungry and God filled them to overflowing. The greatest miracle- He used puffed up servants to do it.

In crediting ourselves for God's work, we cease seeing God. And when we cease seeing God, we neglect to offer the Bread of Life to those hungering for Him. Instead we send them on their way, still boasting in our hearts about the works done by our own hands. 

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