Today’s reading is Luke 9:10-17 (ESV):
Feeding the Five Thousand
10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
God does not only provide for His people; He provides through his people. In Luke 9:13, Jesus tells the disciples “You give them something to eat.” While the disciples were doubtful of their own abilities to serve, Jesus gave them tools to serve; He multiplied the famous 5 loaves and 2 fish. Then even after the people were fed, 12 baskets were left over: one for each of the disciples. God gives us the capacity to enrich the lives of others, and then some. It’s because He wants us to serve that He gives us the loaves and fish. Our gifts—musical talents, speaking skills, artistic affinities, the ability to LOVE, and more—are not ours to keep.
But how can I confidently set out to feed 5000 people when I don’t see the loaves and fish, and I don’t know how God intends to fill my basket? I don’t how each day will end; much less do I know how the miracle story that is my life will end. I try to serve, but can I give it all and still maintain my personal stability and health? What are my limits? I don’t know. But I do know that I’m being fed—by the Spirit, by the Word, by fellow Christians—so it’s my job to feed others with the love that’s so graciously been bestowed upon me.
“We have no more than five loaves and two fish,” said the disciples, doubting that what was given to them would be sufficient (Luke 10:13). The twelve servants, in underestimating themselves, underestimated Jesus’s power. Whenever I doubt myself and focus on what I lack as a servant of the Lord, I doubt God and His ability to empower me in the ways He sees fit. Regardless of the struggles I face related to trying to share the gospel or simply invite someone to church (or Doxa), I need to remember that it’s not a job I have to do alone. I, too, am a tool. But, unlike the perishable food, I am a tool that is loved and well cared for: a child of God. I do not need to find the confidence or ability to speak within myself. God can perform unfathomable miracles, so giving me words, opportunities, and energy must be among the simplest of tasks. The Lord is greater and more permanent than awkward situations, embarrassment, and weariness. When I do remember this, I am relieved. I can then watch in awe as God multiplies my loaves and fish and uses me to feed His people.
Ike Adeyemi-Idowu ‘19 lives in Thayer Hall.