When Jesus heard what had happened to John, he left in a boat and went to a lonely place by himself. But the crowds heard about it and followed him on foot from the towns.When he arrived, he saw a great crowd waiting. He felt sorry for them and healed those who were sick.
When it was evening, his followers came to him and said, “No one lives in this place, and it is already late. Send the people away so they can go to the towns and buy food for themselves.”
But Jesus answered, “They don’t need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
During my quiet time this morning I read this story of the feeding of the five thousand, and I was struck my what Jesus said to his disciples. The disciples, as we often do, focused on what we do not have and had grown weary of the crowds of people following Jesus. The crowds had a hunger and desire to be with Jesus and instead of encouraging that by providing for their physical needs, the disciples instead told the crowds to “go home!”
I wonder if we do not feel the same way at times. Ministry is hard and people can be a handful to deal with at times. If the people are cleaned up and have their lives together, then they would have no need for Jesus. But the reality is that people’s lives are messy and when we get into their lives it will require a commitment on our part which will take time and sacrifice. We cannot send them away when ministry becomes difficult.
Jesus’ words to the disciples echo those of what was spoke to Peter, “feed my sheep.” We have a responsibility to feed the people that come to Jesus. Every morning I feed our pets and at times it is a burden and a pain in the #%*! But they are my responsibility and if I do not feed them they will starve. Preaching, teaching, coaching, and leading people who come to Jesus takes a lot out of us as leaders, but we must rise to the task and not waiver in our responsibilities.