Telling Jesus What to Do!

Posted on May 3, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“Send the crowd away so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.” (Luke 9:12)

Feeding the 5,000 is one of the most prominent miracles in the Bible; it is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four Gospels. It reflects the compassion of Jesus for people in need and is an amazing demonstration of His power to meet our daily needs. It did have negative repercussions in the people missing the spiritual implications of Jesus as the Bread of Life and their wanting to make Him an earthly king that would fulfill their entitlement of food and material things.

Often missed in this familiar story is the nuance of an interaction between Jesus and His disciples. Late in the day they came to Jesus and told Jesus to send the people away to find food and lodging. Other accounts reveal Phillip as the spokesman, but it was obvious he expressed the consensus of their collaboration about the problem. They reminded Jesus that they were in a desert place, as if He might not be aware of that.

How atrocious that they would presume to instruct Jesus and tell Him what to do! In a lapse of sanity they thought perhaps Jesus didn’t realize where they were and the dilemma that created for the crowd of hungry followers. This is the Jesus that earlier in healing and forgiving the paralytic had revealed He knew even the thoughts of the Pharisees. Was there anything that the incarnate Son of Almighty God did not know?

Does this not reflect how we often pray? Finding ourselves in a dilemma, faced with a problem or need, we come to Jesus and tell Him about our situation and what He needs to do about it? Our supplications are how we perceive God should deal with the need–heal my sick child, deliver us from financial stress, restore a wayward son, give me a job, etc. We can be assured Jesus knows our need; He is the one that knows the hairs on our head and sees every sparrow that falls. And often what He wants to do about our situation may be other than what we see as the only solution.

God says in Isaiah 65:24, “Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Yes, Jesus knows our need, He hears our prayer and He is faithful to respond. But sometimes His answer is not what we think He should do. His intervention in our problems is not an entitlement like providing bread to hungry people. He answers prayer from a larger perspective of what would most glorify God and be for our greater benefit than just meeting an immediate need.

Notice the retort of Jesus to Phillip’s suggestion: “You give them something to eat” (Luke  9:13). That was just as preposterous as the disciples’ solution and somewhat sarcastic. They didn’t have any money nor a place to buy food even if they did. John’s Gospel adds the parenthetical statement that Jesus knew what He was going to do, so why did He instruct the disciples to do something they could not do? When we come to Jesus we need to do so in humility, acknowledging our inadequacy. We spend a lot of futile time trying to work out our problems and solve the dilemmas we constantly face when we don’t have the ability or resources to do so. Not until we recognize our inadequacy do we bring them to Jesus and let Him do what only He can do.

Leave a Reply

More News