Sitting in a quiet anti-mall at the end of a dimly lit hallway in the opening hours of this very hipster Northern California market. I can hear the echoes of a hustling and bustling coffee shop down the way as I read about the “food and drink” miracles Jesus performed in the Bible. One such miracle is known as “the feeding of the five thousand” found in Matthew 14.
This a very famous miracle in the Bible. So. as I read this passage, I’m trying my best to get a sense of the hunger and thirst that the crowds and disciples must have felt in these stories; however, this is admittedly quite difficult for me as I sip on this strong and quite rich espresso. I finally set the coffee cup down and try to feel the frustration and weariness of the disciples as they are hand over some kid’s lunch to Jesus. I try empathizing with the hungry crowd who were probably shoulder to shoulder as they gathered around Jesus to hear Him speak.
If you’ve heard about this miracle, you know that Jesus remarkably feeds over 5,000 people with only a few loaves and fish. However, it may come as a shock to you that the crowd didn’t come to Jesus that day for food. Their spiritual leader, John the Baptist, was just murdered. So, these people were probably experiencing mourning, crippling emptiness, and intense grief. They were looking for answers, for comfort, for guidance. But Jesus didn’t address their grief-stricken spiritual hunger alone; He met their most practical need before getting to their deepest suffering.
The extraordinary truth for us in these passages comes to us in a humble sack lunch from a boy: Jesus rarely does what we expect Him to do. Sure, this is a down-right amazing miracle, but it isn’t what the people were after.
Far too often, I am intensely focused on what I think is my most urgent struggle. It clouds my mind and I can’t see anything else no matter how hard I try. “If I could just get this fixed, all would be well”. So, I bring my cloudiness to the Lord expecting Him to meet me in a very particular “a,b,c as easy as 1,2,3” sort of way. Instead, He usually meets me in ways I would have never expected nor asked for. I then proceed to walk away from these experiences baffled and scratching my head. Because while my “urgent need” seemed to go unaddressed by the Lord, I am somehow full.
Jesus is after wholeness in our lives, and He knows what we need. But what Jesus is really after is us, and us knowing Him. He isn’t just after our relief; He’s after our hearts. Jesus doesn’t want us to experience miracles for experience’ sake; He is always trying to show us more of who He is. In every season and situation of our lives, Jesus is working to deepen our relationship with Him.
So, when we are caught in the mystery and messiness of life, let’s simply come to Jesus. Let’s trust that He is for us, and that He is the best person to take care of every part of our being.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.