My last two posts – Daring Questions and The Invitation of Challenging Questions – both came in response to a little whisper that I heard late one night, in my bed, past midnight. I was praying for a friend and I distinctly heard: go read the story of me feeding the five thousand. When you hear a voice that clear you know to pay attention…and what He opened my eyes to at the end of this miracle stunned me:
“and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.” Mark 6: 43 (NIV)
EACH disciple gathers one basketfull of broken bread and fish. Do you see the significance of this? Do you see the foreshadowing of the Great Commission to come?
There is broken bread (Jesus/the Word/the Spirit: the Living Bread) and fish (lost sheep because Jesus called the disciples to be “fishers of men”) and these are gathered in the same basket. The Spirit of God is already lying with the fish, waiting.
We are told that nobody comes to the Father except through Christ. We are told that it is Christ (the bread) who opens hearts and minds (of the fish) to the Gospel. We are told that Christ (the bread) has gone before us to prepare our good works (to impact the lives of the fish). We are called to good works, which lead us to seek first after the Kingdom of God (to bring the bread in us to the fish who have been lying there with the bread). As we do this, by serving others, we see God grow not only the fish gathered, but us also, as the bread (Christ) roots in them and encourages and challenges us. Then that fish is called himself/herself and we see the number of fish gathered, multiplying.
And it is then we see this happen:
“How many loaves do you have?” he [Jesus] said, “Go and see.” Mark 6: 38 NIV
The disciples are called to go, just as Jesus still calls each one of us to unique works He has prepared in advance for us. Put yourself into the shoes of the disciples for a minute. There’s five thousand men present. There’s twelve disciples. Imagine the task of seeking out bread from amongst so many. Overwhelming, right? But Jesus says, “Go and see.” So, they obey.
Then, imagine for a moment being Andrew, the disciple who found the little boy with his lunch and brought him forward, a detail the Gospel of John shares with us (not Mark). Imagine the ridicule he could have received from the others for even thinking this small amount was worth bringing forward.
And think about the fact that the bread and fish were found with a child: the least of these.
And now, think about what Jesus could be telling you about the ministry he has called you to. Don’t read my response until you’ve considered your own, as God will probably show you something unique to your situation. I’d love to hear your response too!
To me, I find him saying through this: “Go where I’ve been nudging you repeatedly to go, for the freedom of my captive children. Look and see what and who I’ve placed around you, bring it, them and all of yourself forward to me and let me multiply what is lacking (faith, confidence, wisdom, support, money).”
I hear Him telling me that I’m not to make my own plans or shirk from going where I feel too scared and insufficient to go. I’m to go (where the situation is scary/overwhelming/impossible), look with the eyes of Jesus for who/what he has already prepared (recognizing that in my own eyes these seem terribly insufficient), and I’m not to start doing what I think is needed, but to FIRST bring what I’ve found to Jesus (in prayer and to His Word), to give thanks for all He has provided and allow Him to direct me further and fill in the gaps that have not yet been filled: to multiply not just to completion but to overflowing.
Luke 9: 1 – 5 MSG
Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick. He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, leave town. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and move on.”
Matthew 28: 18 – 20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Isaiah 58:9-12 (The Message)
“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.
And then, you know it’s God speaking when absolutely out of the blue your three year old daughter talks about us needing to give Jesus our bread and fish!! And I ask her some more and she tells me that Jesus is hungry and wants to eat what we give Him. And before that she shared of a dream of being with Jesus in the sky and not wanting to leave and being sad she had to because Jesus was so beautiful. So, let’s slow to listen for His calling…so that we can share this beautiful Jesus with others, and so the hunger of our hearts (Jesus) is filled to overflowing!!