Matthew 15:32-39 (NIV) Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
The whole situation should have seemed familiar to the disciples: a large, hungry crowd, almost no resources, and Jesus’ insistence that they solve the problem. Jesus’ motive in using this situation was to test His key followers to see if they could follow His previous example in this extremely similar situation. (Matthew 14:15-21)
But, again, the disciples proved to be slow learners. All they could see was the size of the crowd and what they DIDN’T have.
With a sigh of frustration, Jesus turned their attention to what they DID have: seven loaves, and a few small fish – almost half again what they had had just a few weeks earlier. But the disciples still didn’t get it. They just kept shifting their attention from the sparse supplies to the huge crowd and back again.
So, once again, Jesus took control of the situation. His procedure was intentionally identical to what He had done before; a model for the disciples to follow. He instructed the people to sit down. He gave thanks for the available resources, and then broke the food and gave it to the disciples to distribute. And after everyone had eaten all that they wanted, He sent them to pick up the leftovers: 7 large baskets full.
A big part of the disciples’ reluctance was that, even though they had seen Jesus do this before, they did not see themselves as having that same kind of power in themselves. Even though they themselves had cast out demons and healed diseases with Jesus’ authority, this kind of thing seemed different; more like magic. And they saw themselves as being without that kind of magical power.
But Jesus was trying to show them that it was not magical power, but a direct connection to the Father that enabled these amazing miraculous signs. He was trying to teach them that they had the same opportunity to have a direct connection to God. They had the same ability, in Jesus’ name, to have the same power of God flow through them (cf. John16:23-27). But they didn’t get it. Yet.
Father, even today we are slow to believe all that Jesus taught was available to us as His followers. We know that Jesus could do amazing things, but we somehow believe that the power Jesus had was qualitatively and quantitatively different than the power we can access. We fail to see that the power is exactly the same, because the source of the power is exactly the same: You. We don’t do miracles, not because we can’t, but because we don’t believe that we can. We lead powerless lives, because we believe that the wonder working power that Jesus demonstrated was for Him and not for us. We make fun of the lack of faith of these disciples, and shake our heads in wonder at their slowness to catch on. But we are exactly as slow as they were! Forgive us this hypocrisy, and help us to learn this lesson well, so that we can operate in Your power, at Your direction, every day. Amen.