and the disciples said to Him, “Where would we get so many loaves in a desolate place to satisfy such a great multitude?” Matthew 15:33
Seeing this verse out of context,I am likely to assume it is the much loved and familiar story of the little boy who offers Jesus his lunch. Out of a mere five rolls and two small fish, Jesus feeds well over 5000 people. But that miracle is recorded a chapters earlier, in Matthew 14:13-21. This particular verse comes later. Jesus has been teaching and healing multitudes of people . The disciples have been on the front row as miracle after miracle have occurred.
Surely we can expect their faith to be strong. Surely, when Jesus says “I have compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with me now three days and have nothing to eat and I do not wish to send them away hungry lest they faint on the way” (Matthew 15:32), these witnesses would answer with resolute conviction “Lord, we know you will take care of everything; just tell us what you want us to do!”
In spite of all they had seen Jesus do, over the past several days, those closest to Him responded with doubt and uncertainty.
Wow. They couldn’t even remember what He had just done in a strikingly similar situation.
Wow. How fragile their faith. How feeble their memory…how disappointingly familiar.
Even though you and I have 66 books that testify to the faithfulness of God, even though we have personally experienced His grace and generosity, we act just like those forgetful disciples, don’t we? How many times have we faced an impossible situation and wrung our hands in anxiety and fear? How many times have we slipped into despair because we couldn’t figure a way out of the conundrum we found ourselves in? How many times have we forgotten Whose we are and what He can do?
Just like those disciples.
If I were Jesus, I’d have been ticked off. At least exasperated. Wouldn’t you? I mean, seriously, not only had His divine power been on display right in front of them for days on end, but also His unparalleled compassion! How could they not “get it”?
How do we not “get it”?
I am so thankful God included this story in His Word. It brings me much encouragement that the disciples were forgetful. That they could know Jesus personally, watch Him function up close and personal, and still not respond in faith.
And the most encouraging, most comforting part is Jesus’s response. He doesn’t get ticked off. Doesn’t even sound exasperated.
He says “How many loaves do you have?” And then proceeds not to admonish them, but instead to bless them with yet another miracle. (vs. 34-39)
What a merciful, compassionate, gracious God we serve!
Lord, help us to remember Who You are! Forgive our lack of faith. Help us to call to mind Your faithfulness, Your power, and especially Your love for us. Amen.