“Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, ‘Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.’
But He said to them, ‘You give them something to eat!’ And they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.'” -Lk. 9.12-13
We would do well not to condemn the ignorance and blindness of the disciples, for we are often walking in the same manner that they were in this passage. We are an earthbound bunch, and it matters not that we’ve experienced grace and mercy, without a continual stretching and exercising of vital faith, we eventually fall into a non-supernatural view of life.
The disciples had just returned from their first real Kingdom mission, for the Lord had sent them to preach the Gospel and to “perform healing” (v. 2) on all who would receive. They had gone “throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” (v. 6) This must’ve been a remarkable experience for them, for the same miraculous works that they had seen performed from the Lord were now taking place through their own hands. They returned to Jesus, and gave Him an account of the preaching and healing.
If this weren’t supernatural and mind-blowing enough, Jesus took them to Bethsaida, “but the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing.” (v. 11) So following their own brief but remarkable mission, they were brought to a new city and were blessed to watch the Lord perform even more works of power and deliverance before their eyes.
But “now the day was ending.” Surely the multiplied teachings and healings were enough to call the day good. Surely Jesus was fatigued by now. Surely the crowd needed to start heading back into town to find lodging and food. Surely things could only go downhill from here on out, and they were moving into “down-time” mode.
The sensible logic of the disciples enters into the text now, and it is just here that Jesus is wanting to teach something that they would never forget. He is looking for co-laborers, and He longs to walk with those who will believe Him in ways that seem ludicrous or illogical to the world and its wisdom.
How crooked their faces must’ve looked when Jesus said, “You give them something to eat!” They responded like most of us would. “We only have five loaves and two fish. I guess we could go into town and buy something from the food shop.” They wanted to obey Him, they wanted to serve the people, but they were thinking on an entirely lower plane than that which Jesus was teaching them to live on. How could Jesus have expected that these men would believe for a supernatural multiplication of fish and loaves?
It doesn’t seem reasonable, but He expected them to believe nonetheless, and we all know the outcome to the story. “And they all ate and were satisfied.” We mustn’t be too quick to fall back on our logic and human understanding. There may be a totally unexpected route that the Lord would have us to take in any given situation, so a moment-by-moment dependence upon Him is absolutely crucial. The possibilities of grace far transcend anything we can expect or figure, so we must walk in child-like faith before the One who is enthroned above, and who intends to demonstrate His power through those who are willing to co-labor with Him.