There are a lot of people in need in our world. Some of those needs are obvious. Many go without what we consider to be the bare necessities of food and shelter. Other needs are more internal, hidden from plain sight. The need for companionship, for acceptance, for understanding, forgiveness and love can be tricky to spot. As Christians we are to recognize those needs and seek to meet them. That may seem a little overwhelming, but when we answer Jesus’ call to meet needs, He stands right beside us.
In fact, when we follow His command to reach out and meet needs, He multiplies our efforts. All four of the Gospels record the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. When Jesus heard that his cousin John the Baptist had been murdered by Herod, Jesus when to a secluded place by Himself. We can only imagine the grief Jesus experienced, though He knew that John would be beheaded.
The people followed Jesus, waiting on the shore because He had gone out in a boat. Jesus had compassion on the people and began healing and teaching them. The day wore on and as evening fell the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowds away so that they could to the nearby villages and buy food for themselves.
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”
The disciples saw the need, yet they didn’t seek to meet it themselves. But when told by Jesus that it was up to them, they looked around for what they had. They came up short, or at least they thought they had. “We have here only five loaves and two fish,” they told Jesus. So Jesus took what they had, blessed it had the disciples distribute it to the crowd. After everyone had eaten their fill there was twelve baskets of leftovers.
Two thousand years later we’re still telling and in awe of this story. No matter how little we think we have to offer, Jesus will use it to meet needs and accomplish His will. But the offering of what we have is up to us.