Another Word…by Gus Keiser

February 5, 2018

“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”          

                                                                                 Mark 6:38

 A new bakery has just opened not far from our house, one that I pass every time I journey to the west end of town. The counter is set up, the display cases are all in place; but there’s just one problem, there’s nothing in them, or anything on the shelves.  Right now, the only product that ends up there are things people have ordered and that has been shipped there from their Pittsburgh location to be picked up at the new store.  Ovens and other baking machinery have been put into place, along with the promise that they will soon be a fully operational, retail location.  But for now, there’s no bread to be had, so it’s a good thing Jesus didn’t send them there to look for bread.

This is a really fascinating story involving Jesus and his disciples…oh, and a few thousand others. The disciples had just returned from being sent out to do and teach all they had seen Jesus do and teach.  They were filled with excitement and couldn’t wait to tell Jesus all about what they’d just done and experienced.  Jesus, however, had something else in mind, taking his disciples away via boat to find some much-needed rest.  Yet, before they could even step off the boat, they were surrounded a by a large crowd hungry for Jesus who met them on the shore.  Jesus, filled with compassion for the people, began to teach, sharing with them the mysteries of his Father’s kingdom.

For an entire day he taught them, but the disciples, sensing the day drawing to a close, approached Jesus. Since it was getting late, they asked him, “What should we do about food for all these people?” Seems like a reasonable request, doesn’t it?  Yet, rather than give his disciples an answer, Jesus moves the conversation to a whole new level.

Instead of miraculously producing some amazing spread, he turns toward the disciples, uttering what is perhaps one of my favorite lines from Scripture…”You give then something to eat.” And so he leaves standing there twelve very confused people.  So they respond with the only thing left to say, “That would take almost a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

 Do you get the sense here that, for Jesus, there’s something far larger than just finding enough food to feed this large, expectant crowd? So Jesus decides to turn the tables on his disciples: “What are you going to do about it?”

 I’m sure the vernacular of the time had them phrase their response a bit differently, but their shocked response was more than likely something to the effect of…”Are you kidding, Lord? Do you even know what you’re asking of us?”

 Now Jesus has the disciples just where he wants them. While the disciples have eyes to see the need, they’re blind to the solution…a solution that was closer than they ever imagined.  And so Jesus looks into those confused faces and asks another question: “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

Go get ‘em Brilliant Jesus! He answers their question with one of his own, with a question that will lead them to see for themselves the very solution they seek, but only if they have eyes to see it.  You see, the problem wasn’t that the disciples missed the need.  Oh no, they saw the need.  The problem was that it never dawned on them that they might actually have a role in its solution.  So what we have going on here is nothing shy of a miracle.  In the end, well over five thousand people were fed with five loaves and two fishes, all gathered together and distributed by a dozen skeptical disciples…a group to which we to this day belong.

How often and how easy it is for us to see the needs around us…only for us to then cry out to God…”Where are you? If you’re such a loving God, then why are you allowing these people to go hungry, or to hurt, or to die?”  Like the disciples, we see the need, but are blinded to the fact that we might actually have the key to the solution, or to understand that God may well be inviting us to be part of that solution.

God’s always there, always at work, so that means that there are no God-forsaken solutions, only situations that have been forsaken by us…his followers. God’s answering the question we ask with one of his own…”I’m right here; where are you?”

 Do we have eyes to see the needs? Do we hear his invitation?  How many loaves do you have?  Go and see!

Lord, open the eyes of your people; that we might see the solution that’s directly in front of us or that lies within us. Amen.

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