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(Part 37)


June 2, 2013
Today’s gospel: Luke 9:11-17

Today’s story of the feeding of the five thousand has some important elements of how servants ought to relate to the Master.

First, in facing the need before us that God intends for us to fill, we look not to our own resources but to God’s. The Twelve said, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have” (Lk 9:13b). Many times we tend to look at ourselves and our resources, which would always be inadequate for the vast work we are to do. Then we get discouraged, or we do not move at all, or we grudgingly work but are resigned to failure. But we need to know that if we do God’s work according to His will, then He is the one to provide. And God has all the resources at His disposal.

Second, our task is to bring people to the Master, not to be so overly concerned about needs that we in effect put focus not on Jesus but on concerns for self. The crowds were already with Jesus, hearing about the kingdom of God and being healed of their infirmities. But now the Twelve said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place.” (Lk 9:12). While their intent was good, it should not have been their priority. The people were already with the Great Provider, who provided miraculous food in the desert, who even now was providing food for the body and food for the soul. They should have known that even in a deserted place, God can and will provide. In fact, to be in the desert with God is much better than to be in the villages and farms, with their material sufficiency, apart from God.

Third, while it is God who has the resources and it is God who will provide, we are given the privilege of being channels of His grace and provisions. That is why we are called to do His work. So Jesus says to us, “Give them some food yourselves.” (Lk 9:13a). We look to what is at hand, and even if seemingly inadequate, we go about our work, trusting that God will provide whatever is needed or lacking.

Fourth, in now doing God’s work, we must never forget that we are totally dependent on Him, that apart from Him we are nothing. It is unfortunate that as God uses some people, and they gain experience and confidence, they slowly rely less and less on Him and more and more on themselves. Whereas before, when faced with an enormous task with inadequate resources, we would desperately seek God’s help in prayer, now, with greater trust in our capabilities, we might pray less, or at times even neglect prayer. It is as if we say, “we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” (Lk 9:13c).

Fifth, we must truly be grateful and joyful at the privilege of serving Jesus, and being used by him to provide his blessings to people. Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, “and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” (Lk 9:16). We are channels of God’s grace! We become the face of Christ to others. This is a privilege like no other.

When we humbly and trustingly serve the Master, then we can be confident of what will result. “They all ate and were satisfied.” (Lk 9:17a). Not only that, all will experience the wondrous and miraculous work of God. His grace will be overflowing. “And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.” (Lk 9:17b).

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