Where Do You Go?

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said,
 “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said.
     -Matthew 14:15-18
 
DO YOU REMEMBER THE EVENT when Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men, not counting women and children?  This most likely means there were several thousand more women and children, compounding the dilemma of the disciple’s while magnifying the power and authority of Christ.  This event is one of only two which are detailed in all four of the gospel records, underscoring its importance and overwhelming impact upon the disciples of Christ.  Here is the upshot of this unprecedented historic event:

 

The disciples had recently returned from a wildly successful ministry campaign, having been sent out in pairs by Jesus.  They were bursting with confidence and enthusiasm, having experienced the exhilaration of healing in the name and power of Christ with Jesus being physically absent.  From this campaign Jesus continues taking them with Him to village after village.  In the midst of this Jesus receives word that John the Baptist has been beheaded.  Exhausted from travel and hard work, and saddened by news of John’s death, it was time for a much needed rest; a rest not only of body but also of soul.  It was time to abide in quiet, in the presence of God.  So Jesus takes His disciples away for some R & R.
 
But rather than finding a place of solitude, they arrived at their destination only to find a massive crowd of people waiting for Jesus.  So much for peace and quiet.  Knowing what we do of the disciples, and knowing what I know of myself, the unrecorded thoughts and conversation of the 12 may have sounded something like this.
 

DISCIPLES:  “Aragh!  You’ve got to be kidding!  Can’t you people just leave us alone for five minutes?  Jesus, can you tell these people to go away?  Please?  Just tell them to go away.  We’re tired.  You’re tired.  They’re hungry.  We’re hungry.  We need a break.  Just tell ‘em to go away.

JESUS:  “So? . . . . They’re hungry.   They don’t need to go away.  Give them something to eat. 

DISCIPLES:  “Are you serious?  You’ve got to be kidding!  That’s impossible!”
 
Jesus then has the disciples divide the people in groups of 50’s and 100’s, has them sit down, blesses the meager sack lunch of a young lad, and then tasks the disciples to distribute it among the famished mega-crowd.  An amazing thing happened:  the free-will offering of a little boy, received by Jesus, was used by Him to feed everyone present.
 
 
What we don’t often think about are the mechanics of the food distribution.  Jesus may have tasked the 12, or the broader group of disciples who traveled with Him, or even the crowd themselves to help distribute the food.  But how much food can one person carry?  How large of an area was occupied by the 10 to 15 thousand people present?  How long would it take to serve such a large crowd?  But most importantly, what did they do when their arm load of food was distributed, when their hands were empty, when they had nothing more to give, yet had served only 10 people?
 
 
ANSWER:  They had to go back for more.  They had to return to the source of their supply.  Over and over they gave to others only what they had received from Christ.  They gave nothing of their own to anyone. They had nothing to give.  They could only give what Jesus gave them and when they had no more to give they had to go back for more.
 
We also need to be reminded that, rather than being irritated with the needy people surrounding us who are clamoring for help and hope (by the way:  each of us is needy), we need to see people as objects of Jesus’ love and freely give away that which we have received from Him.  Apart from that which Jesus gives us, we have nothing to give to anyone.  And when we are empty we go back to the Source.  Over and over and over again, we go back to the Source.  Jesus gave to us what He received from the Father (John 5:19), and we in turn give to others what we have received from Christ (Matthew 10:8).
 
It is not uncommon that I find myself empty of strength and energy, empty of courage, and empty of vision; empty in heart and empty in soul.  It is in that emptiness that I must go back to the only One who can fill me up.  Jesus said that, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).   
 
Then why do I get spiritually thirsty?  Because in my fallenness and self-centeredness I often block the flow of God’s power in my life.  It is then that I must go back to my Source, to Him who alone can sustain me and give me all that I need.  Yes.  I am a needy person, and Christ alone has everything I need.  And I pray that day by day I will learn more and more to give away freely that which has been given to me.  There is always more where that came from.
 
As we move forward in obedience to Christ and in service to one another, our community and our fellowman, it is the grace and the strength of the Lord that we need.  Don’t grow weary in doing good, for at just the right time you will reap a harvest if you don’t get discouraged, and if you don’t give up (Gal. 6:9).
 

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and to know that you are the
Holy One of God.”
-John 6:68