Tired and exhausted from an unusually long day, I finally arrived home well after dark. I mumbled a quick ‘hey’ to my wife, then tiptoed upstairs, hoping my kids wouldn’t hear me. I love my kids. But I was drop-dead tired.
Deep down, though, something didn’t feel quite right. Although I was (understandably) exhausted, I couldn’t imagine Jesus avoiding the people around him.
I’m guessing you can identify. There are times you feel like you don’t have ‘enough’ to care for the people around you. There never seems to be enough time, money or energy.
So the question is, ‘how will we respond?’
In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus and the disciples provide a powerful example of how to do it well (Jesus) and, not (disciples). Let’s take a closer look and learn how Jesus gives us everything we need to love the people around us even when we’re fried.
A Failed Getaway
John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, has just been beheaded by Herod for calling him out (Matthew 14:1-12). After receiving the news, Jesus needs to get away. But the hungry crowds follow him on foot and arrive ahead of him, ruining his retreat.
How would he respond? How would you respond?
Our Natural Response When We’re Drop-Dead Tired
I know how I’d respond. ‘My cousin was just killed! My own life is in danger! I need some time to process, pray and unwind. See you in a few days!’
This is how the disciples react, too. ‘Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’ (verse 15)
In the disciples’ reaction, we see our own, natural response to others in need. Especially when we ourselves are tired and exhausted.
Let’s break it down.
Our response is natural and understandable
In Mark’s version of this story (Mark 6:30-44), we learn that the disciples are utterly spent from their short-term missions trip. (Mark 6:7-13) No wonder the disciples are ready for some down time. In the same way, our tendency to move away from others is often understandable.
We let others meet their own needs
The disciples tell Jesus to send the crowds away, and find their own food.
I live in a major city, with many homeless people. Like the disciples, it’s easy to brush them off, especially when I’m tired. When we’re low on time or energy, our instinct will be to let others ‘figure it out’ and meet their own needs. Even when they can’t.
We do what’s best for us, and justify it
Ultimately, the disciples put their desires above the people Jesus calls them to serve. And make excuses by saying they’re short on time and food.
We see this tendency in ourselves, too. We have understandable reasons for sending people away, but at a deeper level we’re looking out for our own needs. And justifying what we do to Jesus, and ourselves.
Related Post: 4 Promises For Your Excuses
In the disciples, we see our (ugly) selves.
But in Jesus, there is a world of hope for us, and the people that we want to serve. Even when we ourselves are short on time, energy and love.
Next time, in the final part of this series, Jesus will encourage us, and show us how it’s done. For now, I’d like to leave you with a few application questions.
- Where in your life do you find yourself responding like the disciples, especially when you are drop-dead tired?
- Take a moment to confess that, and ask Jesus for help. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9)