Matthew 14:18-21 (NIV) “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
The disciples began with a focus on what they lacked, what they needed. They looked at the size of the need: 5,000 hungry men, besides the hungry women and children. They looked at the resources that they had available: five loaves of bread and two small fish. They saw the massive gap between the two, and threw up their hands in despair. If they had thought to pray (which they didn’t), their prayers would have been prayers of desperation, pleading with God to do something to help them.
Jesus, on the other hand, began in a whole different place. He saw the same need as the disciples. But when He looked at the available resources, He saw spectacular potential. They weren’t starting with nothing! They had five loaves of bread to act as “seed” to meet the need, as well as two fish!
The reason that He saw the resources differently was that He saw them through the lens of an additional resource that the disciples had overlooked: the Father. God had created the whole universe from nothing. He had fed around two million Israelites in the wilderness for forty years, starting with nothing. To begin with five loaves and two fish made this task child’s play!
Jesus began by imposing a little order on the existing chaos, dividing the crowd into groups of hundreds and fifties, and having them sit down on the grass (Mark 6:39). Then He prayed. But notice that there was no petition in His prayer at all; not a word about the need that was sitting on the grass in front of Him; not a word of instruction as to what God needed to do.
Instead, Jesus’ prayer was one of thanksgiving. He thanked His Father in heaven for the need-meeting resources that He had already placed in His hands, and He thanked Him for how He was going to use those resources to meet the present need. Then Jesus broke the loaves and the fish, and gave them to the disciples to hand out to the people; an act of faith that God really was going to provide.
The disciples handed the food to the people, and, as much as they gave away, they still had more to give – more, in fact, than the people could eat. The leftovers filled twelve baskets. They actually finished with more than they had started with, after having given so much away!
Father, forgive me. I am so like the disicples in this area, and so unlike Jesus. I am so prone to focus on the gap between the need and my often meager resources. I too often forget that You have promised to be a resource for me in times of need, a resource that will instantly close the gap, and, indeed, promises more than enough of what I truly need each day. Help me to become more like Jesus in this area, starting today. Amen.