By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “this is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat. But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:35-37
Jesus, even after spending time with his disciples in a boat and teaching those who followed the boat to the shore, still wanted to minister to the people. His disciples were slow to catch on regarding his mission. Later we’ll see the miracle with the loaves and the fishes, but before that, Jesus needed to teach His disciples. I actually think the miracle with the food was secondary to what Jesus needed to show his disciples.
We’ve heard the phrase “ministry is caught, not taught.” That’s what’s happening here. They’re probably all exhausted because they’ve dealt with people and each other all day. When they’re weakest physically was when their guards were down. They just wanted to disperse the crowd and get some rest. Jesus had other thoughts.
I think this is an often overlooked point about ministry. We may not have the luxury of being at our best at all times. God knows that. Those in ministry know what it’s like to get emergency midnight calls when we’re clearly not at the top of our game. Ministry is about people, and people need help at very inconvenient times!
If you’re in that situation, rest easy knowing that God see and knows you best. Leaning on Him during those times is absolutely essential for maintaining sanity and balance. The disciples obviously had to lean on Jesus because they hadn’t a clue about where they were going to get food to feed the crowds. It was a lesson that was caught, not taught.