There needs to be clear communication to get a solution to a problem. A census taker drove many miles down a remote country road to reach a mountain cabin. A woman sitting on the porch yelled, “We don’t want any. We’re not buying anything.” “I’m not selling anything,” the census taker said. “I’m here to take the census.” “We don’t have one,” the woman said. “You don’t understand,” the census taker said. “We’re trying to find out how many people there are in the United States.” “Well,” she said, “you sure wasted your time driving out here to ask me, because I don’t have any idea.”
In this humorous fictional story, the census taker did not clearly communicate the task and the woman thought it was too difficult of a task. However, in the real stories in the Bible God often clearly asks people to do things, but they think the tasks are too difficult. Noah, build an ark. Moses, lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Gideon, defeat an army with just jars and torches. Esther, save the Jewish people. It is these times that His strength is shown.
The feeding of the five thousand in Mark 6 is another example of Jesus asking something difficult but then providing a solution. A large crowd had gathered and Jesus had compassion on them and began to teach them. It was getting late in the day and the disciples became concerned that they would not be able to feed all of the people. They told Jesus to tell the people to go find food, but He replies, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples certainly understood the problem and what would be required. That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?
Jesus is all-knowing and already knew what He was going to do, but often asked questions to teach and instruct. The question He asked next was to let the disciples better understand what was to come; God’s power at work. “How many loaves do you have?” Whenever you are faced with a problem it is important to get a handle on the resources and knowledge you have. The disciples went and found that they had five loaves and two fish.
You probably already know what happens next and I imagine the disciples had an idea as well. They trusted Jesus when he told them to get the people to sit in down in groups on the grass. They did not question him or say that everyone would get less than a bite from that little amount of food. They had seen Jesus perform miracles and heal people. The disciples sometimes get a reputation as being slow to catch on even though they were with Jesus everyday. However, I think they came to realize that while they only had a few loaves and fish, they also had more than enough to meet their needs with Christ. Jesus gave thanks to God for the food and broke the five loaves and two fish, which ended up feeding over 5,000 people! Sometimes we think our own resources or ability is our greatest strength, but it is the strength and power from Christ that matters.
Stohlmann, M. (2015). The world's greatest engineer. Seattle, WA: CreateSpace.
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.