Acting in Faith

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. [Matthew 14:13–21 — NIV]

“As His sheep, God’s people hear His voice and follow Him. This indicates that they are in such a relationship with God that they trust Him implicitly. They know His voice, they hear His voice, they obey His voice.” [Kenneth C. Ulmer, Knowing God’s Voice (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2011), 52]

When the New England Patriots gather around quarterback Tom Brady in the huddle with only seconds to go in the game and their team down by less than a touchdown, you never hear them say, “We only have a little bit of time left and a long way to go for a touchdown.” No, they listen to their captain and believe him when he says that they can do it.

When Theodore Roosevelt led his troops up San Juan Hill, you did not hear soldiers saying, “We’re outnumbered. We are rushing up a hill without any cover. We can’t do this.” No, they followed their commanding officer because they trusted him. If he said they could do it, they could do it!

Jesus had been miraculously healing the sick in a large crowd when the disciples, rightly tired after a long day, came to Him and asked Him to send the crowd away to find food. The Master turned to His disciples and said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (v. 16).

The Captain had spoken. The Commanding Officer had given the orders. Did the disciples immediately move into action? No, they looked at their resources and said, “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish” (v. 17).

Now, Tom Brady has never walked on water (although many New England fans believe he does). Theodore Roosevelt never raised the dead. Other great leaders have never done the miracles Jesus did. Yet, men have long followed orders of great leaders without questioning or considering the odds. Why is it, then, that when Jesus gave the disciples orders to feed the people, they questioned him? Why is it when our Lord asks us to do something we often question His orders? Looking at our resources and ourselves we meekly say, “We can’t.” Meanwhile, Jesus continues to remind us, “With Me, all things are possible.”

Jesus’ disciples finally followed His instructions and, as a result, they saw a great miracle performed. Imagine what miracles are in store for us if we, too, learn to follow Jesus’ instructions.