Getting the Job Done
Try to picture yourself as one of the disciples serving this crowd of 15,000. Barrel chested Bohan, the steel worker from Bocham is demanding you give him more, saying, “What kind of tidbit is this you are giving me? I need some food, you stingy fisherman.” You ignore the insult, give him some more, and move on. Priscilla Persnicity from Petra is whining, “Young man, how long has this fish been out here in the hot sun? Are you trying to poison me? And this bread. What’s in it? I’m gluten intolerant.” You reply, “This fish started out the day as smoked cod fish filets, but it has been transfigured into fresh baked God fish. The bread was baked yesterday by Mrs. Peter as rice flower bread, but it has been transmogrified into God bread, like manna from heaven. You won’t have any trouble with it.”
How long do you suppose it will take to feed all those people? Let’s do the numbers. Twelve waiters serve 15,000 people. That means each of you serve at least 1,250 people. If not too many of them are like Barrel chested Bohan or Priscilla Persnicity let’s suppose that, working efficiently and quickly, on average, you can serve one person every 5 seconds, without stepping on anyone. That works out to about 1 ¾ hours to get everyone served.
Now how far are you going to need to walk, zig-zagging back and forth across the space Jesus, the Head Waiter, assigned you? We could make some assumptions about the amount of personal space needed for each person and estimate how far the walk might have been. Let’s not take the time for that calculation. But no matter how you figure it, each disciple had a lot of walking to do in that 1 ¾ hours. And probably a lot of bending over. Oh, my aching back!
And just when you think the job is done, Jesus gives each of you a big basket and sends you back out into the crowd to pick up scraps. Oh, my aching blistered, sandal-clad feet, when is this going to be over?
Here’s an interesting ancillary question. Where did the empty scrap baskets come from? Did the crowd bring them from home anticipating this dinner? Did they just happen to be in the boat? Did one of the disciples run into town and buy a bunch of baskets? There is part of the miracle that the gospel writers just don’t bother to mention.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I’m glad that for my marathon assignments, I have Jesus the divine provider, right there with me infusing me with his strength and encouraging me on to completion. According to Your word: “Therefore, let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].” Hebrews 4:16 AMP