To provide bread for multitudes of hungry people, we would require natural ecosystems and a thriving economy. There must be fertile land, adequate condensation and biological systems that process seeds into matured plants for harvest, over a period of time. Labour markets must supply labour for tilling, planting, tending, harvesting, milling and processing.
Oil, salt, sweeteners and yeast must be available from commodities markets. There must be access to funds from financial markets to pay for labour, equipment and raw materials. There must be adequate time and intelligence to bring all the actors and factors together to provide enough bread for multitudes.
How about enough fish? Think about access to water teeming with fish sustainably grown and harvested. Think about the labour, the equipment, the processing of raw into edible fish. Think of the financial markets. Think of the time and mental strain that would be required to bring all the actors and factors together to have enough cooked fish.
On a certain day, after teaching multitudes of people for several hours in an isolated place, Jesus’ disciples asked Him to send the people off to buy themselves food. We may conclude that the disciples were not being wicked. In their world, it was the right thing to do. Knowing the physical and material limitations, Jesus responded, “They need not depart, give them something to eat.”
By asking them to provide food on the spot for the people, Jesus attempts to shift the disciples’ attention from their reality of limitations to a reality without limitations. I believe Jesus not only wanted them to bypass the systems they grew up in, He knew they could. But how?
Jesus blessed a young lad’s lunch of five Barley loaves and two fishes, causing instant multiplication. An estimated 15 to 20,000 people ate and had baskets leftover. By so doing, He unveiled an invisible and omnipresent source of supply, accessible with or without financial or material resources, whose currency is faith. This was done on two separate occasions.
Consider what was sidestepped. Think of what did not transpire. Yet, the need was met, publicly.
How does this apply to those of us seeking to follow Christ in meeting human needs today? Could it indicate the facility with which we could employ the supernatural, and sidestep markets and natural processes, to meet today’s needs? What are we missing?