Can you honestly envision what 5,000 people looks like? Close your eyes (after reading this next line):
Imagine 10 men. Then 100. Can you imagine 200? What about 1,000?
Do you honestly know what a crowd of 5,000 men looks like?
I’ve been to convention centers, conferences, and in large crowds. It’s always impressive and the energy that size crowd brings is electric. You got it? Can you see it?
If you need help, here’s a photo. Its from 1973. That’s the year I was born, coincidentally. Its in New York and 5,000 Sabres fans gathered to say Thank You to the team. It looked like this:
Full disclosure: I didn’t count each face on this photo. I’m sure there’s an app for that, so if you’re so inclined then go for it. But the headline reads: “5,000 People Say ‘Thank You, Sabres’ in 1973”. So there you go. Hope that helps.
I want you to have a picture of the crowd because I honestly don’t think we are thinking clearly when it comes to Jesus. Let me be more specific. I think we tone down the magnanimous reality of scripture. I think we’re missing a lot of the WOW that should be hitting us but isn’t.
Here’s the story: Jesus had been talking/teaching/healing a large crowd, probably for hours now. But it was getting late in the day and his disciples very reasonable suggested to Jesus that they send the crowd away before they got hangry. If you want to read for yourself, mosey on over to Matthew 13, or Mark 6, or John 6.
Basically, Jesus seemingly put the responsibility of figuring out how to feed 5,000 men on His 12 men. The 12 disciples clearly didn’t have the resources or wherewithal to feed the masses, but they did find a kid who’s lunch was either absconded or volunteered; a veritable feast of 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Personally, I identify with this kid because he obviously is serious about his carb intake. Amen, kid.
But let’s take a quick look at the progression of what transpires with this boy and his lunch. It actually has everything to do with how you’re living your life right now.
In case you want to just grab the alliteration and run, here it is: Bring it, Bless it, Break it, Broadcast it.
Bring it. God has always used what is at hand to accomplish his divine, miraculous purposes. Remember Moses and God’s chat when Moses was doubting if God could really use him? God asked “What’s in your hand?” Moses offers his shepherd’s staff and watches God turn it into a snake. God is still asking you and me: “What’s in your hand?” What you offer to God will be used by God. No exceptions. Furthermore, God will do far more with what you have than you ever could. That lunch in the hands of that boy was a lunch for one, carbolicious as it was. But in the hands of God, that lunch for one became lunch for 5,000. Step 1 in triggering the miracle is to bring it. Whatever “it” is that’s in your hand: Bring it.
Bless it. We’re told that once Jesus took the fish and loaves, he blessed it. Kind of a lofty, churchy, spiritual term isn’t it? Jesus gave thanks for the fish and loaves. He recognized it might have come from a boy but it ultimately came from God. After all, who made the fish? Who made the wheat that would be ground into bread? So what we bring should also be blessed. Acknowledge God’s provision: Bless it.
Break it. Okay, let’s take this one in a couple different ways. Jesus obviously broke the bread literally; he split it, ripped it, cut it, whatever he did to make one piece into two pieces, into three pieces, four pieces, 57 pieces, 5,000+ pieces, etc. You get it. He broke it. But for us, it can also represent the “breaking” that needs to happen between ourselves and our own sense of ownership of that thing. I wonder if we would be so tight-fisted with our belongings, money, and even our time if we remembered that we actually own nothing more than the breath that is currently within our lungs? And even that breath (the Hebrew word “ruach”) is literally on loan from God Himself? What kind of breaking needs to happen in your attitude toward “your” stuff? Break it.
Broadcast it. In this scene Jesus gave the newly brought, blessed, and broken fish and loaves to the disciples to broadcast it to the crowded who had now been broken into groups of 50 and 100, seated and waiting to be fed. But for you and for me, how is love broadcast from my life and yours? Not everyone is called to take a stage and a mic, but everyone does have a platform to broadcast from. The call is not to preach, but to broadcast in the context of every conversation you have with every person you interact with. Broadcast it.
If we were to subtract any of these steps from the equation, I’d dare say the miracle would not have been what it was. What can I do and what can you do to internalize and contextualize the Bring it, Bless it, Break it, & Broadcast it way of living?