Ministry is harder than anyone thinks. It’s a 24/7 operation, without enough time to eat or sleep properly. “It’s time to take a break, guys,” Jesus said to his disciples. He knew of a campground he could use in the woods, so they headed off there. Unfortunately, some of the crowd heard where they were going, so they drove there ahead of Jesus’ ministers. A lot of them. Frankly, the campground was filled with people.
“Damn,” said Philip. “There goes our break.”
Jesus saw their need, and they were so desperate for some guidance. So he mingled through the crowd, speaking to some, praying for others. After a day of this, Jesus’ ministers caught up to him, “Hey, Jesus. These folks must be hungry, huh? Let’s send them home so they can eat.”
Jesus looked at his group and said, “It’s our responsibility to make sure they eat.”
They said, “But we only have what we brought for the retreat! Just some bread and meat for sandwiches! To feed them would require thousands of dollars!”
Jesus sighed. “Remember when the children of Israel were in a remote place, without food?” Jesus stopped and looked at their blank faces. “Here, give me the bread and meat.” And Jesus began making sandwiches. After he put together a hundred of them, he gave them to John, “Here, you give these to that group over there.” He kept handing sandwiches to the student ministers to hand them out until everyone had eaten. Then Jesus gave a teaching to the crowd and sent them away.
During the teaching time, the students counted the crowd and there were about five thousand there. When they collected the leftover sandwiches, there was enough for each student to take one tub home.
Another day, after Jesus had argued with a council of preachers, Jesus told his students, “Beware of the byproducts of the preachers that infect the good bread.”
The students discussed what Jesus meant by this. Some speculated that it was because they hadn’t brought enough food with them. They should have bought more.
Jesus’ mouth was agape. “How could you not get this? How many lessons must I teach you? You are sometimes so dense! When you counted five thousand people, how many sandwiches were left?”
“And when you counted four thousand, how much food was left?”
“Don’t you get it? Food isn’t the issue! God will always provide food! He’ll make sure that everyone is fed, even through us, no matter how little food we seem to have. That should be the least of our worries. Rather, we should be concerned about the leadership of the church that teaches hate and judges the people God called them to serve! Don’t be like them—claiming to be of God but lacking the love of God!”
Then they understood that he was talking about the leadership of the church, and not about sandwiches.
Mark 6:31-44; 8:11-21