I was struck recently by the accounts of Jesus feeding the 5000.

He insists that the crowd be made to sit down, and, having multiplied five loaves and a couple of fish, he instructs his disciples to collect up the bits left over from the feast.  It seems like they were the only ones still on their feet through the whole episode.

It seems unlikely to be just a coincidence that it was the 12 apostles [Lk 9:10, 12] who oversaw the clear-up that resulted in 12 baskets of broken pieces.

A whole basket each!

We don’t know for sure what happened to this surplus, though Jesus was keen that ‘nothing be wasted’ [Jn 6:12], so it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that this provided a meal for each of the disciples, who up until then had been busy supervising the food distribution to others.  I guess they finally got the chance to sit down themselves.

The lesson seems clear:

When we, at the direction of our Master, give ourselves to providing for the needs of others, he does not intend that we ourselves go hungry.  Rather, we will be fully satisfied, exactly as he promised:

“Give, and it will be given to you: a good helping, squashed down, shaken in, and overflowing—that’s what will land in your lap. Yes: the ration you give to others is the ration you’ll get back for yourself.” [Lk 6:38]

We do not expend ourselves for others in order to receive, but the promise still stands. And if I sometimes feel weary and empty from giving to others, then maybe I need to listen for the Master’s instruction; to know when to sit down and accept the sustenance that he provides for me.

There is a time to give and a time to receive (as an ancient ‘Preacher’ almost said).

There was a time when these same disciples were concerned for their Teacher:

“Come on, Rabbi! You must have something to eat!”

“I’ve got food to eat that you know nothing about,” he said.

“Nobody’s brought him anything to eat, have they?” said the disciples to one another.

“My food,” replied Jesus, “is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to finish his work!” [Jn 4:31-34]

But I need to remember that there was also a time when he says to them:

“Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” [Mk 6:31]

For a modern-day parallel to this incident, and the similar challenges involved, see Generation Awakened: Inside the Gen Z Revival at Asbury (mereorthodoxy.com)