I'm in the middle of a series writing over Matthew 14 where Jesus feeds the crowd of 5000 with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. I have a second and third discussion planned, but the last 2 days I've been reminded, sometimes hourly, of a really phenomenal idea that happened as that miraculous afternoon unfolded. Primarily that... indeed, the miracle unfolded. It wasn't instantaneous, it was not immediate. It took time and I imagine no small amount of trepidation on the part of the disciples. I touched briefly on this idea in my Monday blog, but I keep coming back to this idea of when miracles take time.
Through the majority of the New Testament, when Jesus performed His miracles, they almost all were instantaneous- a blind man saw, a deaf man heard, a bleeding woman was made well, the soldier's ear was replaced, Lazurus rose from the dead. In all these cases, the words were spoken and the deed was done. Wham, bam, done! Totally, 100% completed.
But this particular afternoon, despite the fact that Christ could have most certainly caused every single man, woman, and child to suddenly have a plate of food with their cups overflowing with drink... He didn't. Though we may never know exactly why He chose to do this particular miracle this particular way (at least not on this side of Heaven)- still I would love to venture an educated guess.
Imagine the crowds, easily 15,000 with women and children, it's afternoon, it's late and people are getting restless, they're hungry. Imagine the sun beating down, the general unease that is most likely setting in across the fields of people. Now imagine how the disciples must have felt when Jesus took the food, prayed over it, and then told them to go feed everyone. I'm guessing that there were not a few that did a double take and had some serious thoughts of fading inconspicuously into the crowd .
After all, Jesus had just promised to feed everyone... in front of everyone. The stakes were high and the word had been spoken... Can you envision how rapidly that information spread through the thousands? "They're going to feed us." "Jesus took a small basket of food and promised everyone food." Incredulity may have been the word of the day... both for the disciples and the people.
Perhaps those a bit more gifted in the faith department assumed that food would appear out of the sky... perhaps they were looking to the clouds for the God of the Old Testament to rain down quail and manna for the people.
But He didn't. And I wonder if anyone continued to look up for their deliverance instead of noticing the miracle unfolding right at eye level. It's a fascinating idea.
This miracle was doled out, miraculously and supernaturally- person. by. person.
Step. by. step.
Piece. by. piece.
You gotta think as the disciple were handing out the food from that small basket that each and every person they came to they wondered, "Do we still have enough? How many more people are there? How much food is left?" Those men witnessed the hand of God providing enough for every single person on the hillside that day. The miracle was actually made up of thousands upon thousands of tiny (but no less amazing) miracles.
What an amazing thing! Because so much of this journey is about the journey right? Not the destination. It's about seeing the hand of God in every single miracle (small or large) and knowing that He provides enough through it all. So often, myself included, we desperately want the 'miraculous'- the huge, game-changing event, the writing on the wall, the sign in the heavens addressed directly to us. We want to be healed, fixed, arrived... and we want God to move hugely and immediately.
But He doesn't.
How often do we spend all our time looking up into the sky waiting on the manna from heaven when the piece of bread and slice of fish is being hand-delivered to us?
The miracle we want is unfolding before our eyes, unfurling in our hands.
And the miracle goes unnoticed... because we're looking for the massive and missing the minute.
This day the disciples must have learned such a lesson in relying on God for every. single. miracle. their hands were performing. They had tens of thousands of people, eagerly awaiting their food, all eyes were on them- talk about stress. What happened if they ran out too soon? I imagine mass chaos and potentially even rioting could have occurred. After all, I can;t imagine a crowd of that many people being pleased if only 63% got fed.
They were out there, asked to do the impossible, totally exposed to the expectations of the crowd (anyone feel like you're in a similar position??) You better believe they were sweating bullets and praying mightily for provision- person by person. I think it's not too crazy to think that some of them were still praying for manna from heaven as they were handing out the food! All afternoon! How long must it have taken to hand out that much food to that many people! It's not like they were all neatly arranged in rows in a stadium...
The miracle must have lasted hours!!
It definitely would have been easier and certainly more convenient for the disciples for the 'massive miracle' . In fact, they probably wouldn't have had to even get up! But Christ needed them to learn this lesson of fully-relying on Him. That everything they were getting ready to do- the preaching, the teaching, the miracles, the church-planting, the persecution- everything was dependent on the power of God.
Is He preparing you for the same thing using the same lesson?
Today dear one, I challenge you to search you heart and ask yourself what situations in your life you are looking for the massive miracle and missing the minute miracle. It's a miracle both ways- one just takes a bit longer to complete.
Do not miss what may be already in your hands!