A Word for Today | Luke 9:12-17
When we consider Jesus’ miracles, we notice that our Lord used these experiences as a training ground for his disciples, the future apostles. This instruction in ministry comes through most clearly in the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus probed the disciples with Christians, even though “he already had in mind what he was going to do” (Jn. 6:6), and what He taught to them He now teaches to us.
First, Jesus provided the motive of Christian ministry. Seeing the large, hungry crowd, the disciples urged Jesus: “Send the crowd away” to find food elsewhere, “for we are here in a desolate place” (Lk. 9:12). Jesus countered this indifference with his own compassion on those in need. Charles Spurgeon applies this lesson especially to our neglect of evangelism to a lost and dying world: “Behold before you, disciples of Christ, this very day, the thousands of men, and women, and children, who are hungering for the bread of life. . . . Let the magnitude of the mission drive you the more earnestly to the work.” Jesus taught and showed that the heart of all Christian ministry is His own compassion for those in need, especially their need of salvation. What Jesus said to the Twelve he now says to us: “You give them something to eat” (Lk. 9:13).
Second, Jesus taught the manner of Christian ministry. The disciples were shocked by Jesus’ demand that they feed five thousand people. “We have no more than five loaves and two fish,” they objected, and no money to buy more. Lacking the means, the disciples despaired of even attempting their ministry. But Andrew brought forth the boy who put his five small loaves and two small fish into Jesus’ hands. Here is the lesson for our provision in ministry: we take what we have and bring it to Jesus. What we are and have is far too little! But Jesus is able to work a miracle through it!
Third, Jesus taught that the power in our ministry is given from heaven in answer to prayer. John 6:11 says that Jesus offered thanks to God, meaning that He asked the Father’s blessing on the little resources available to Him. We likewise must take our small talents, resources, time, and ability, place it in Jesus’ hands and pray for God to do mighty things.
Finally, fourth, Jesus taught the necessity of faith in our ministry. Having blessed the small loaves, He told the disciples to start distributing. Here is the great lesson: it was while they were acting in faith that the miracle occurred, not before. Jesus did not multiply the bread and fish and then give them to His disciples! Instead, He challenged them to believe and through their faith the miracle was worked. How vital this principle is in our whole approach to seeking God’s saving power. We must act in faith, trusting the Lord and His Word, finding that as we have trusted Him the Lord has accomplished His miracle. The power comes from God in prayer. Yet the miracle comes through faith!
The questions come now to us: Do we have Christ’s compassion? Will we place what we can offer into His hands? Do we believe in the power of God through prayer? If we do, then it is often as we step forward in faith that we find miracles occurring in and through our lives.
In Christ’s Love,
 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Miracles and Parables of Our Lord, vol. 2, pp. 558-559.