We’re pretty good at recognizing needs, aren’t we? When our stomachs start growling, we know our bodies need food. When we’re spending more than we’re making, we know we need to budget better. When our cell phones run out of juice, we know we need to charge them.
We’re pretty great at recognizing needs. So what? Even babies can identify needs. It doesn’t matter if their hungry, sleepy, or poopy – they can recognize a need, and they have no problem letting the adults in their lives know about it.
Here’s a familiar story of a basic need Jesus encountered during His ministry:
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. | Mark 6:34-44
How insightful of the disciples to identify the people’s need, right? They recognized they were in a desolate place and that these people would eventually NEED food. They probably factored the following in:
- distance from civilization (food)
- amount of food needed
- ability of surrounding villages to provide when bombarded by 5,000 people
- time of day
- amount of time for people to get back home
Yes, the disciples were very insightful, very discerning. We would probably suggest the same course of action. Why? Well, because we’re really great at identifying needs.
But how are we about responding to needs?
The disciples’ idea was to send the 5,000 away so that they could provide for their own needs. But how does Jesus respond?
And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. | Mark 6:41-42
Jesus not only recognized the need, but He satisfied it. He stepped in. The disciples were pretty great at recognizing the need, but were faithless and unwilling to meet it.
We need Sunday School teachers. We need discipleship in the Church. We need buildings to gather in. We need people to take initiative in the Church. We need to do more evangelism as the Church. We need better leadership in the Church. We need to benefit the youth. We need to benefit the adults. We need… we need… we need.
We’ve gotten so good at – so busy with – identifying our never-ending list of needs that we’ve completely missed the point: Nothing changes if nothing changes. The needs will only keep increasing if we don’t start meeting them and knocking them off our list.
Something to think on: Are you simply pointing out the needs around you without a willingness to meet them yourself? Are you doing so without the faith that God can provide? Are you refusing to consider that He may use YOU to meet that need?
v.37 is convicting in so many ways:
But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” | Mark 6:37
The disciples’ response clearly demonstrated their lack of faith. Nothing new, right? People lack faith all the time. But consider this: They had just witnessed Jesus do miracles all throughout the villages. They had just returned from doing miracles in Jesus’ name!! You would think their faith would be stronger than ever at this point, but we see the exact opposite to be true. How about us? Have we not seen the faithfulness of the Lord in the past? Have we not seen His providence? His power? Of course we have! And yet we find ourselves behaving much the same as the disciples.
Are we responding to the needs around us without faith? Are we even responding at all? My heart is heavy as my mind takes me back to this single command from the Lord:
You give them something to eat.
Friends, the world is hungry. The Church is hungry. The need is great. How will you respond?