Give Away All Your Loaves and Fishes

“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

Yesterday we looked at these words of Jesus from Mark 6. The twelve followers of Jesus were functioning in overdrive. They needed to stop and recoup before moving on, and Jesus knew this. So He called them to come with Him away from the hustle and bustle and to simply rest (Mark 6:31).

Did you know physical rest isn’t optional? You may be able to pull an all-nighter here or there, but God designed our bodies to need sleep in order to function. Is sleeping for eight hours the kind of rest Jesus is talking about here? Let’s pick up the story in Mark 6 to find our answer:

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them (vv. 30–33, emphasis added).

After days (perhaps weeks) of keeping up a grueling schedule, Jesus and His friends finally were able to get away for some much needed R&R. But as you noticed, their reprieve only lasted a short while. They were greeted at the end of their boat ride with “a great crowd” (v. 34).

Looking Beyond the Obstacle

Does it ever feel like busyness is chasing you down? You try to find rest, but you simply can’t escape the crowds and the chaos. It’s discouraging and frustrating. Yet how does Jesus handle this interruption to solitude? It doesn’t say He was irritated with them, or He ignored them and stayed on the boat. Instead, the second half of verse 34 says He had compassion on the crowds. Compassion!

If I were sitting on that boat with Jesus, compassion would have been the furthest response from my mind. I would have viewed the oncoming crowd as a nuisance, an unwelcome interruption to my solitude. Hello people, can’t you tell you’re being a bother? I’m as tired and hungry as you are. You can go back to your corner of the world now and leave me alone. I don’t have the time or energy to deal with you right now. Goodbye!

A response like this is a sure sign I’ve got everything backward. I’m ignoring that Jesus is King and placing myself in the center of the universe. I’m forgetting that the purpose of time with Jesus in peace and rest is to fill my soul in order to be poured out for others.

The disciples missed the point as well. “Send them away,” they told Jesus, “to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (v. 36).

Jesus does not listen to them. Instead, even though there were literally thousands of hungry people with empty stomachs, He turns to His disciples and says, “You give them something to eat” (v. 37).

Jesus doesn’t see the people as an obstacle. He sees them as an opportunity.

Remember, there are over five thousand hungry mouths to feed in the crowd, and the next verse tells us the only morsel of food they can scrounge up is five bread loaves and two fish. Clearly the need is well beyond the scope of their abilities. But that doesn’t appear to be problematic for Jesus.

You see, He doesn’t see the people as an obstacle. He sees them as an opportunity.

Seeing the Opportunity

Jesus did not ask the disciples to solve this problem on their own or to be more and do more than what is humanly feasible. All He asked was that they give Him what they had. Sure, it was a meager dinner for even one man, let alone five thousand. But if they were willing to entrust it to Him, Jesus would take care of the rest. The point wasn’t if what they gave was enough, but if they were willing to give their all.

You may be in a season where you don’t have much to give. You may have physical limitations. Maybe you’re tired, discouraged, or lonely. You want to hone in on the “come away and rest” part and stay there forever and ever.

Let Jesus take your meager loaves and fish and multiply them for the kingdom.

As we saw previously, there’s nothing wrong with times of rest. When Jesus leads you to that place of rest, embrace it with joy and gratitude! But when He leads you into a season of crowds, needs, and service . . . embrace that as well with joy and gratitude. Give from what you do have, offer what you can, and let Jesus take your meager loaves and fish and multiply them for the kingdom.

What is your response when Jesus asks you to pour yourself out for others? Do you begrudge the needy people in your life, or do you see them as Jesus did—as an opportunity to show compassion?

About Author

Leanna Shepard

Leanna began serving on staff with Revive Our Hearts in the summer of 2014. Though originally from Arkansas and now residing in Michigan, her citizenship is in heaven, having been adopted as daughter of the King at age ten. She loves a cup of hot tea with a good book, experimenting in the kitchen with a new recipe, and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals.

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  • Gracie

    This came at such a good time for me! Right now I am going into an extremely busy season as I perform with my Christian studio as Haman in the story of Esther. The past two posts have helped me in the two big areas I have been struggling in: trying to seek God, even as the “bad guy” and reaching out to help and be an example to others even when I don’t feel like I am at my best. I feel like there has to be a balance of sitting at the feet of Jesus and just soaking Him in as well as using the strength and talents He gives you, no matter how insignificant they seem, to serve people around you, even the “crowds” (people who just really hurt or annoy you). Compassion is such a wonderful word, and that helps so much when rethinking about those around us.

    • Leanna Shepard

      Sounds like you’re on the right track to finding a good balance, Gracie. I hope the production of Esther goes well, and that you find fresh new ways to seek the Lord in the midst of the busyness and crowds.

  • Allison

    I LOVE this! Thank you!