Loaves, Lakes and a Test!
The disciples received two assignments from Jesus that seemed unrelated. However, Jesus connected them so that believers will understand what happens when they obey—and how to apply those examples to any God-given assignments with a soft and believing heart.
The First Assignment: The Loaves
Jesus, despite His human fatigue, had compassion for the people and showed Himself as the exact representation of the Father by teaching and instructing the people and healing the sick. But the next need was before Him: hunger. The disciples begged Jesus to send the crowd away to get their own food, but good fathers feed their kids. Jesus’ work was not yet complete.
Jesus needed to represent the Father again to the crowd, but He also in turn needed to teach His disciples how to represent Him and His Father to the world. So, He told the disciples, “You give them something to eat” (Matt. 14:16 NIV). The disciples had just seen God—through Jesus and then through them—do the miraculous, and they were incredulous. They had spent much time with Jesus but still didn’t understand that Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing, and it always worked out—even during trials.
The disciples began to look at their own strengths and abilities for this colossal God-sized task, saying, “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people” (Mark 6:37 NLT). And that is exactly the point. Jesus asked them to gather what food they could and bring it to Him. With five loaves and two fish, they were about to represent the Father in the power of delegated authority.
Jesus began to show them how. He did not look at the crowd or at His disciples for guidance, but to His Father who spoke to His heart: “Feed them.” He lifted the loaves and fish and gave thanks to the Father for His provision even before it arrived. He knew God supplied His power for His commands and will to be done on the earth. Jesus broke off some food and gave it to the disciples; food multiplied at His hands and at the disciples’ hands, and Scripture says, “they did all eat and were filled” (Matt. 14:20 KJV). The Greek word for “filled” is chortazo, (Strong’s H5526) which means, “to gorge, feed abundantly and full”—much like an enormous Thanksgiving dinner with abundant leftovers.
Now that’s the kingdom of God coming on earth as it is in heaven. There’s always an abundance in the Father’s house. He’s the Everlasting God, the King of the universe—and kings put on banquets. It is not the servant’s responsibility to pay for the food, only to serve it at the king’s orders. God is Father King and He feeds His kids.
Followers of Jesus will experience unspeakable joy when they participate in miracles by responding in obedience to the King’s requests. His strength, power, and resources are released into His assignments with abundance.
The Second Assignment: The Lake
At the end of that same day, Jesus gave His disciples a second assignment: to cross the lake to Bethsaida. So, they begin rowing across the lake while Jesus was in prayer on the mountain. Halfway across the lake, a storm began. The contrary wind was howling, throwing waves into the boat, and rowing was nearly futile. The fourth watch of the night approached—between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. The disciples were already exhausted from the previous day’s ministry journey and from feeding the crowds, and now they were physically spent from rowing all night. Suddenly, they saw Jesus walking on the water in the middle of the storm. Mark’s version adds just a bit of interesting information: “He was about to pass by them” (Mark 6:48 NIV). Jesus intended to walk past His terrified friends—which seems peculiar. However, don’t forget: Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing.
A Failed Test and Hard Hearts
Jesus passed by His disciples because the Father was testing them in their understanding of the lesson learned in the assignment of feeding the five thousand. Look at the parallel passage from Mark’s viewpoint:
He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.—Mark 6:48-52, NLT (Emphasis added)
Although they didn’t pass the test, it exposed something within them that led to the failure. The disciples needed to learn God’s strength would accomplish every task He gave; how quickly they forgot what happened when Jesus commanded them to feed the multitude with the bread and fish! They only needed to respond in obedience.
When Jesus sent His disciples to the other side of the lake, His same power was available in the command to “go” as it was to feed the multitude. They could have spoken to the wind and the waves or any obstacle in their path. God’s Word and command in their mouth was just as powerful as Jesus’ own command in His mouth—just as with the centurion who said, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.”
Later, after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples and sent them with a fresh mandate and an infilling of the Holy Spirit because He would not physically be with them anymore. Jesus said:
As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”— John 20:21, NASB
In each assignment, Jesus represented the Father on earth as the exact representation of His being. Just as the Father supplied Jesus with the Holy Spirit, Jesus supplies you. That Person, the Holy Spirit, is all you need. Trust Him and obey even when it seems Jesus is walking past you. It is a sign that He trusts you to address your obstacles with His authority.
Fight against allowing your heart to become hardened with unbelief when the test or trial comes. Hardness of heart comes when the believer looks to two loyalties for strength—Jesus, and self. Only one is God! You cannot trust in yourself and God at the same time. When you trust in your own strength, a war will rage within you because you, more than anyone else, know your weaknesses. One part of your heart will tell you to trust in the Lord, and the other will tell you to trust in yourself. These two nattering heads arguing back and forth will try to convince you which way to lean. Subconsciously, you know you cannot handle everything; often, anxiety will ensue.
Trusting in self is a pride of life and a love of the world. It clings to this world and is a self-focused means of handling life, ultimately trusting in one’s own strength rather than God’s. It will pull a person away from loyalty to God and submitting to Him out of joyful obedience.
The Canoe Dream
One morning I had a strong dream from the Lord. In my dream, I was resting on my back in a canoe with my arms folded comfortably beneath my head. There were no oars or paddles. The lake was completely peaceful and shimmered like glass as the sun shone down on it. There were no waves, no wind; it was completely still. As I lay on my back, I thanked the Lord for the glorious blue sky above me and relished in it. I was totally at peace, enjoying and delighting in rest and the surroundings. I saw Jesus walking on the water near my canoe. He swooshed His arms forward and suddenly a gust of wind propelled the canoe forward. The canoe eventually slowed to a stop, but I was still not at the shore. I thought to myself, “Jesus is going to have to swoosh His arms again.” With that, Jesus did swoosh His arms again. And again, a gust of wind moved the canoe forward—this time to the shore. He gave me a hug, but then I was on my own. He walked away upon the water to others that were on the lake. I saw Him and said, “That man has authority.” It was like I was seeing His authority at one percent of what it is, but it was still powerful.
This dream is significant for the whole body of Christ. There were no oars so I could apply no human effort. I was in total peace enjoying God and His creation, praising and thanking Him. It was Jesus who supplied His ability to get me to where He wanted me to go and when He wanted me to go there. He has all authority to make those decisions. Jesus declared this to His disciples, just before leaving earth:
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”— Matthew 28:18–20, NLT
You may not be called to preach, but God has the authority to send you wherever He is calling you. Rest in His authority. He will get you to the other side. It is Jesus Christ who releases the wind and power of His Spirit to propel you forward. Even if you are called to take steps of faith, you can do so resting, praising, and thanking while enjoying where you are until He is ready for you.
Reflect with the Holy Spirit
- Lord, what truth sparked inside me in this chapter?
- Am I doubting the authority You have delegated to me and thus the power You have given to me to accomplish what You have asked me to do?
- How am I doing in the “canoe”?
- Where are You “sending” me?
- Is there anything I need to cut off that woos me away from my true status in You and in my God-given assignments?
Next week, we will look at resting in your "yare". Yare in Hebrew means reverence an awe! It's found in Psalm 139:14. You are Yare, Fearfully and Wonderfully made. Yare is only used to describe God in the bible and.... You! Learning to rest in your yare, will keep you from the double-mindedness of self-strength and performance to be enough or accomplish Gods plans for your life.... Enjoy next week as you behold your own yare in God.
This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.