The Gift Of Empty Pockets

But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.”
— Luke 9:13 ESV

The disciples were incredulous. Jesus had told them, "Take nothing for your journey ... no bread nor money." Now he was telling them to pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat. He wanted the disciples to cater a meal for five thousand in the desert.

At that point the disciples did what I have done. They scoured their resources (five loaves and two fish), looked back at Jesus with a scowl, and complained: 

"But Jesus, we don't have enough to work with . . . "

What the disciples failed to remember is that the key to resources is not a WHAT but a WHO. They may have had empty pockets, but they had Jesus.

  • Jesus who had healed the man possessed by a demon. (Luke 4)
  • Jesus who had healed Simon's mother-in-law. (Luke 4)
  • Jesus who had healed many in Capernaum. (Luke 4)
  • Jesus who gave the ridiculous command to "let down your nets for a catch." Remember? Two boats almost sank because of all the fish they caught. (Luke 5)
  • Jesus who raised a widow's son. (Luke 7)
  • Jesus who calmed the storm by rebuking it. (Luke 8)

Commenting on the disciples doubt about feeding the masses, New Testament scholar Joel B. Green writes:

In light of [God's provision in the past], could the twelve not continue to trust now, even if these fresh circumstances present obstacles more severe than those they had yet faced? Against such a backdrop, the extraordinary nature of their request to send the crowd away is seen in their lack of any vocalized expectation that Jesus might be able to provide for their needs. The Gospel of Luke, New International Commentary on the New Testament.

How often do I, like the disciples, want to throw in the towel because I am looking at my resources instead of Jesus.

I see my problems. I forget about His power.

These were beleaguered disciples ("having a lot of problems or criticism to deal with"). They were surrounded by 5,000 mouths to feed, but they did not have the resources they needed. Their pockets were empty.

I think that is just where Jesus wanted them.

He wanted the disciples to walk out on their journey with empty pockets because he wanted them to remember who fills them. He wants me to remember that too.

Jesus is bigger than the problems you will face today. Look to him for help.