Do you ever have one of those weeks or months where you just feel like you are going to lose it? You are completely at the end of your rope. April was such a month for me. Full weekends every week, friends visiting, work, study, applications… We all tend to find ourselves in these seasons. But as in all things…Jesus is the answer.
Last Monday I was really struggling and crying out to God for some help. I was just feeling exhausted, not wanting to do anything anymore. As it happened, I was in Mark 6:30 that morning following along in my yearly reading plan, and God hit me with the truth.
Now, I’ve read the account of Jesus feeding five thousand many times, and it never hit me as so practical as it did that morning. You see, Jesus is using this to teach his disciples a lesson – an important lesson we can take into our daily lives and struggles.
The disciples had just returned from being sent out by Jesus earlier in the chapter. They come back and are fired up, reporting to Jesus all that they had done. And even then, there were so many people coming and so much to do that v31 says they didn’t even have time to eat. I know most of us have been there at some point.
So Jesus says, in effect, “All right, guys, let’s get away and get some rest.” So they get in a boat to head out to a solitary place (v6:32). Except when they reach land they are met with five thousand people in need of shepherding (v34). Now imagine being a disciple with Jesus on the boat. You have just gotten back from a business trip, you’re feeling good about the work you have been doing, but you’re feeling a little drained, a little grouchy and irritable at this point. You just need a day off.
So they get in this boat thinking, “Finally, some rest. This is just what I need” only to arrive on the other side with even more work to do there than where they just left. This obviously was the breaking point for them. Jesus gets out and starts ministering to the crowd. I just imagine the disciples sitting back and going, “This is ridiculous. We were supposed to get some rest. This ain’t right, we were promised some time off!” And then Jesus turns to them – and it’s late by this point – and tells them to feed these people. And they are thinking, you have got to be joking. I didn’t sign on for this. This is too much. They bark back “That would take eight months of a man’s wages…” Clearly annoyed by this point.
And then Jesus teaches us this very important lesson. He feeds everyone.
We learn in John 6 the meaning of this miracle. In John 6, he explains that he is the bread of life; that we are to feed on his “flesh”. Now, this sounds grotesque until we connect it with John 1:14 “The Word became flesh.”
Jesus is teaching us to feed on Him. There is a spiritual truth here being revealed. We see in Col 2:17, Heb 8:5, 10:1, that the physical truths are but a shadow of the heavenly truth, which is the substance. In other words, Jesus is teaching us that no matter how busy we are, it is Christ that sustains us. He feeds us spiritual food, which is himself. He is our strength, he is our substance. The truth is that no matter how exhausted we feel, no matter how much we need a sabbath and rest, what we need more than anything is Christ himself.
This is a great truth to learn, and I’m sure someday, re-learn. But that morning it uplifted my spirit and I was again sustained. Isa 50:4 captures it nicely:
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.”