I waitressed one summer in college and am grateful for several lessons learned– one of the best being those waiting on us may have more going on than first meets the eye.
This came to mind last Sunday as we studied the feeding of the 5000 out of Mark 6. I was struck by the fact that the disciples were already tired and hungry before this day of ministry began, (vs. 31). Ever try to serve people when your own tank is empty? My niceness falls right off the map!
Did the disciples feel irritable? Were they jittery? Dehydrated? Have headaches? There’s a decent chance. Did they have ulterior motives when they suggested Jesus dismiss the crowd for the dinner hour? I would have.
Now imagine how they felt when Jesus responded with, “You give them something to eat,” (Mark 6:37). Sigh. Now, they might really be getting testy.
Well, low blood sugars notwithstanding, they manage to find and deposit the little boy’s meager scraps before the Lord. And Jesus sets them in motion: seat the crowd, divide them up in groups, then let the passing out begin. Food, that is.
Since only the men are counted in the 5000, estimates are that between 10,000 and 15,000 were actually there (counting women and children). So, just to keep numbers round, let’s say there were 12,000 there that day. That means each disciple was responsible to pass out food to 1000 people.
So, I began to imagine, depending on the size of the baskets used, the disciples may have made as many as 200 trips back and forth between the Lord and the group they were passing food to. And what do you suppose was going through their minds?
Well, here’s my guess. Perhaps for the first 50 trips back and forth their minds could only drum out the desperate thought: “Will there be enough food?” After all, they were facing down a crowd that could easily become a “hangry” mob.
Then, as they made their next 50 trips to the Savior, did relief seep in with the thought, “There WILL be enough,” looking in wonder at the baskets passing through their hands.
With the next 50, did their steps grow lighter as they fought to grasp the miracle, “There will ALWAYS be enough,” scanning the whole mass and seeing smiles of satisfaction.
And with the final 50 passes, did they look up the food chain to see their Master in a new light? Did their hearts pound with the real miracle, “YOU will always be enough!”
I wish I could say this is what happened, but not so unlike us, the disciples usually had to live a lesson a few times before it took. In fact, we read that later that night, when Jesus walked on the water, the disciples, “were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened,” (Mark 6:51-52). Rats.
But, true to form, Jesus gives them another shot. In John’s account, we find Jesus the very next day teaching them that He is, “the bread of life,” (John 6:35). And light begins to dawn.
Thank you, Lord, for inviting us to wait on folks, ironically enough, so that we too might be filled—with You!