The disciples frantically shuffle through all their belongings hoping to find some bread. “I thought Andrew was bringing the bread," remarks a beleaguered Thomas. “No, it was Thaddaeus," Andrew responds. Back and forth they go only to find one measly loaf of bread.
Then their greatest fear is realized. Jesus says, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
“Great! The Master knows. Our foolish act of forgetting bread has been exposed. And now Jesus, speaking in parables like he always does, is rebuking us for being so dense. We are going to starve out here in the middle of the ocean all because none of us remembered to bring the bread.”
In these moments our humanity lies bare. Our greatest fears are realized—we are exposed for the weak and woefully inadequate people we are. We failed to meet even the lowest expectations. Things that are so seemingly obvious nobody should mess them up. When you go on a journey, you bring bread! Any dolt knows that.
When you are called to lead a church, you’d better set vision. If you spend hours in your study, you shouldn’t emerge with a real stinker of a sermon. Shepherds aren’t supposed to mess up relationships. Spiritual leaders shouldn’t go through period of intense doubt or numbness.
But here you are. Confused. Unsure of what direction the church should go next. You are preaching so poorly you’d be happy with something even semi-cogent. Gone are the days when you are disappointed because you didn’t hit a home-run in your sermon. Now you’d be happy to get a bloop single. You’ve blown relationships. And you’ve endured painful dry periods.
You had one job to do (bring the bread) and you left it at home.
Then Jesus speaks…
He interrupts the disciples' panic. “Fellas, I’m not talking about bread here. Is this really what you are worried about? Are you really so dense to get this worked up over bread after I’ve just fed 5,000 and then again 4,000 with only a few loaves of bread?”
These disciples are so focused on their own failure to bring bread that they’ve forgotten the One in the boat with them—the One who could turn stones into bread if He desired.
Jesus is less concerned about having perfect bread bringing disciples than he is about having disciples that—in the midst of their brokenness and failures—stand in awe of his power to take our lack of bread and transform it into an abundance.
What matters in life and ministry is not that you brought the bread. What matters in life and ministry is that Jesus has power, He is building His church, and nothing will stand against Him.
There are times when our weakness and humanity will be on display for all to see. And in those times we’ll either try to save face and make the issue about our lack of bread, or we’ll use this as an opportunity to point to the Bread of Life. Brothers, he is more than enough to make up for my lack of bread.