Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Journey, part 22: the stillness

(For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, "Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each." They did so, and had them all sit down. (Luke 9:14-15 NASB)

It had been a long day with Jesus. Both the crowd and the twelve were tired and hungry. The disciples suggested He send the people away and call it a day, but Jesus had other plans. "No," He said. "You feed them."  It was a teachable moment that may have surprised the apostles. "Well, we could go buy some food and distribute it, but we do have five loaves and two fish. It's not enough to go around though," they said as they offered their meager supply of food to Jesus. It turned out that, in the hands of Jesus, the little they had was more than enough. 

Before the blessing of the food or the distribution of the food, Jesus did an interesting thing. He accepted the food from the disciples and instructed them to get the crowd organized. The crowd included five thousand men, in addition to women and children. The disciples were to move through the crowd and get them seated in groups of fifty people each.  

Most commentaries suggest that Jesus organized the people in this manner to make it easier to count them. That may well be true, but it doesn't seem quite right to me. He who stilled the wind and the waves, made the blind to see, and raised the dead almost certainly already knew how many people were there. Perhaps our Lord, who knew well the tendencies of crowds, put the people in a seated position for something other than counting.  

It is the tendency of crowds to follow the most aggressive leader. A tired and hungry crowd, seeing a source of free food, would have a tendency to swarm the distribution point. The most aggressive would not only get their food first, but possibly get the most. In seating the people in an orderly fashion, our Lord who is a God of order and not chaos, was saying, "You don't have to stampede Me to get what you need. I know you are seeking Me. I will provide for all of you, both the greatest and the least, the most forceful and the most humble. You don't have to clamor for provision. I will provide all you need." 

By seating them, He placed the people in a position of submission, of waiting. They were completely dependent upon the provision of Jesus for the meal. Seating them in organized groups made those groups more homogeneous. A group of fifty is too large for a clique. When the disciples organized the groups, no one could exclude another because they were different. Before Christ, they were all equal. 

Just for a moment, think about that huge crowd. As the twelve moved through, telling the people, "Jesus wants you to sit down in groups of fifty," and the people obeyed, the crowd gradually got organized. As more groups formed and were seated, they probably began to get quiet, to get still. Before long, thousands of people were organized in groups, seated and still, quietly waiting before Jesus. 

Seated and still, waiting before the Lord.  What a wonderful place to be!  There are times of service, when we are called to plan or organize or distribute the work of God. There are other times when we are called to wait patiently before Him to see the great work of God that He has planned. Both are essential in the life of the disciple. It is in the still waiting, however, that we learn to trust the sweet, faithful provision of our Jehovah-Jireh. Seated before the Lord at His direction is the place we find that He can be trusted to meet every need and the place we are equipped to serve, as well. 

Are you in the place of waiting? Do you need an intervention of God? Perhaps what is needed is not more fretting or more planning but a time of utter stillness before Him. 

The psalmist wrote about this stillness. 

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10 KJV). 

It is in the stillness that we understand He is God and it is in our stillness that we exalt Him before all around us. Sit down for just a bit, be still, and get to know our God. He is all you need. 

I apologize to those who looked for the blog post last night. My son came home from college last night and we had such fun times that I opted to forgo writing to be with him. I will have something posted tonight, though. Thanks for your faithfulness.