fish fry

40 Days of Prayer: Day 34

Have you ever had an impossible task? I know you’ve probably had some difficult tasks before like 20 page term papers or a quickly approaching deadline for expense reports. Even though you probably felt overwhelmed you knew that if you buckled down you could get it done. Those are challenges. What I’m talking about is an impossible task. One where no matter what you do or how buckled down you are you just can’t do it. It is simply impossible. Has God, himself, ever been the One to tell you to do the impossible? If you said yes to that question, you are not the first person of whom He has asked the impossible.

The Bible is filled with stories of people being challenged by God to do the impossible which gives me tons of potential stories from which to pull. The one that I chose to use is found in Matthew 14:13-21 (also John 6:1-14). Jesus had been teaching as large crowds followed Him around. Mainly, they came to see Him do a miracle or perhaps to receive a miracle themselves; nevertheless, they followed Him and listened intently to what He had to say. Jesus’ disciples decided that the people had followed them around long enough so they asked Him to send them away so they could go to the nearby towns and find their own food.

Jesus had another idea and replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (Matt. 14:16, NIV).

Could you imagine the disbelieving looks on the disciples faces when Jesus said that? They probably each started stammering until Jesus asked Phillip specifically,  “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (Jn 6:5).

I can see Phillip looking around helplessly at the other guys and then to the large crowd of over 5,000 people silently running the numbers in his head until finally answering, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (Jn 6:7).

Was it hyperbole? Did Phillip pick an exorbitant amount of money to show how ridiculous the request was? I don’t think so, and if you have ever thrown a party you know how expensive feeding people can be. Just do the math. Even if you spent the equivalent of $2 a piece you would spend over $10,000. Phillip gave an honest assessment that was probably correct, but Jesus didn’t care.

“You give them something to eat.”

To spend $10,000 that you don’t have to feed 5,000 people that you don’t know is pretty close to the exact definition of impossible.

Another disciple, Andrew, not to be out done by Phillip’s math skills said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (Jn. 6:9). 

That has always struck me as funny. I wonder if Andrew pulled out some sort of ID before he confiscated the little boy’s lunch. Maybe he flipped out a leather wallet with a shiny badge and said, “excuse me son, but I’m gonna need to take that from you.” Snatch! 

Also, why was there only one person with food? Was he a boy scout? Why was he the only person their prepared for an extended stay? Did he have a tent and flashlight, too?

Regardless of these pressing questions, which apparently only baffle me, Jesus did something quite remarkable. He still used the disciples to “give them something to eat.” You see, He never asked them to provide it. He only asked them to give it. Jesus took the small meal, blessed it, broke it and multiplied it. “Then he gave [the bread and fish] to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people” (Matt. 14:19b).

If Jesus is challenging you to do something impossible remember that you don’t have to provide the miracle just be ready to give away what He gives you. That is all He is asking.

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