Feeding 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes is definitely a miracle. Being able to work such a miracle takes a calm resolve and the tired, overworked disciples just didn’t have the energy to tackle it.
Further, please note Jesus’ care of all the disciples; it was very delicate. Why? Because John’s disciples came to Him in mourning because John had just been beheaded, while Christ’s own disciples came to Him in excitement and fatigue, after a journey around the countryside, where, according to Mark 6:13, “They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
At the same time, Christ provides for John’s terrified disciples a refuge, and for His own tired disciples a rest. Mark 6:31 tells us, “Because so many people were coming and going they (the disciples) did not even have a chance to eat.” It was at that moment that Christ told them all, “Come with me by your selves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:32 tells us, too, that “many who saw them (Christ and the disciples) leaving ran on foot and got ahead of them.” Though Christ and the disciples sought rest, the people saw them trying to leave and wouldn’t let them.
Now some might see the people as rude but Jesus didn’t blame them for it nor did He send them away. Christ saw them and, instead of being moved with displeasure, as many would have, He was moved with compassion.
The sleep of a working person is sweet. We should not always be about just work. We all get tired, terrified and troubled, so we need to take time to rest, relax and renew.
There is a “Sabbath Principle” in life, which reminds us that we must rest, relax and renew, as God commands us to, in the 4th Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it Holy.” This principle creates the need for a resting process, which perhaps could have empowered the disciples to see and know what was needed to work such miracle.
Both rest and renewal were important to Christ – His concern went beyond fatigue – because He knew too much work doesn’t just tire you out; it also renders you prone to error and ineffective.
So how did I draw such a conclusion? The people didn’t come to the disciples begging for food; they came to feed on Christ’s words. The people hadn’t complained of being hungry; it was the disciples who suggested it was time to send them home to eat.
Then Jesus shocked the disciples by saying to them, “You feed them!” The disciples’ flippant response to Christ is quite revealing: “That would take eight months of a man’s wage.”
Christ, who perhaps had been resting Himself, had delegated the work of healing to the Apostles. He, perhaps having rested, realized what was needed and asked, “How many loaves, do you have?” He then told them “Go and see.”
They bring the two fishes and five loaves. Christ blessed the food and it became enough to feed the multitude. So it takes both rest and prayer to work a miracle.
When we are coming and going so much, without resting, we become ineffective and miss very apparent solutions to our problems. After the proper rest, we see, with little effort, simple solutions that our tired eyes otherwise have missed.
This is why even God, after working six days at “The Creation,” takes the seventh day to rest. And God commands us, in Exodus 20:8, the 4th commandment, to do likewise.
God’s providence is not to be tempted but to be trusted; God has never failed His faithful servants. When we let Him refresh us, in due season He brings surprisingly great relief.
We often hear people saying, “Jehovah-Jireh,”which is both a name and a character of God, which is very real. When we obey God’s Sabbath principle, “Jehovah-Jireh” does provide miraculous relief and for those, like Christ, who rest, relax and renew, they find the energy, strength and patience to wait on the Lord to provide.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or pastor@churchoftheopen doormiami.org