From Mess to Miracle
While reading a familiar story of one of Jesus’ miracles recently, I noticed something I’ve never quite paid attention to before. Mark 6:30-44 is one of the accounts of Jesus feeding the five thousand, and this particular passage begins with Jesus inviting his tired, hungry disciples away to rest and be refreshed (v.31). But if you’re familiar with the story, you know that’s not exactly what happens. People saw them leaving in a boat and recognized them. They followed them on foot to the place where they were going and so when Jesus and his disciples made it to shore, there was a great crowd waiting on them. And as Jesus so often did, He had compassion on the people and did not turn them away. Instead he began to “teach them many things” as it says in verse 34. Time passed and the hour became late and the disciples recognized that the people would soon be getting hungry. So they urged Jesus to send the people away to a nearby town so they could buy themselves something to eat. And Jesus responds to them and says, “You give them something to eat.”
I’ve read this passage of scripture many times and always heard it taught that Jesus was testing his disciples here. He was challenging their faith to see if they would proclaim confidently that He had the power to feed all of these people. And we know that they don’t immediately draw this conclusion - instead, they sort of sarcastically joke about going to buy that much bread for that much money! They still didn’t get it.
But if I look back at the words of Jesus here, I don’t just see a test - I also see an invitation. I see Him petitioning His disciples to come and be a part of the miracle that He is about to perform - to not let their lack of faith cause them to miss out on the miracle. Jesus says to them, “You give them something to eat.” Don’t send them away. Don’t just look at me to fix it. Be a part of this. Don’t miss out. I’m going to make a miracle out of a mess.
Friends, that’s the same invitation that Jesus extends to each of us. How often to we pray for others...for God to intervene in their lives and their circumstances - for God to provide for their needs - for God to reveal Himself to them? What if in those instances He is petitioning us the same way He did the disciples all those years ago? You give them something to eat. You be a part of this. You be my hands and feet and help meet those needs. You be a part of the miracle. Don’t miss it.
We of course recognize that there are things that ONLY Jesus can do. Only Jesus can take two fish and five loaves of bread and feed a multitude with a surplus left over. Only Jesus can reach into a broken marriage and restore it completely. Only Jesus can reach into a body and heal the cancer. Only Jesus can save our souls from death and hell and restore us to a right relationship with God.
But just because Jesus is the miracle-worker, doesn’t mean we have an excuse to sit idly by. Jesus asks His disciples, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see” (V.38). Go and see. He sent them out to do the work - to bring forth what was necessary for the miracle to happen - for the people to be fed.
We also are invited to be a part of His work. We are invited to share His love and His power with His people. We are invited to hand out loaf after loaf and fish after fish until people are filled to the brim and stand in awe of the power of Jesus to make something from nothing. Go and see. Go and see.
What a beautiful reminder from this passage that while Jesus doesn’t necessarily NEED anyone to accomplish His work, He invites us to be a part of it. To be both a witness to it and a participant in it. Jesus has given us an invitation and a mission. Come alongside. Don’t miss out on what I’m about to do here. Where you see a mess, I’m making a miracle. Come and see.
Come and see.