Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Invading the Margins

The feeding of the 5000 is the flannel board story of stories: Jesus at a picnic, multiplying fish and bread from a little boy for the hungry crowds, in a field on the edge of a lake.

What's easy to miss is how costly this whole scene was, not just for the little boy, but for Jesus and his disciples.Mark's Gospel describes how the disciples are reporting back to Jesus about their first mission trip, but are interrupted by the crowd; so much so that they don;t even have time to eat. Jesus calls them away to a remote place to rest up and refuel. They are exhausted, hungry and mourning John's recent death at the hands of Herod.

The crowd sees them leave in the boat and runs to meet them on the other side. Jesus upon seeing them has compassion on them for they are 'like sheep without a shepherd,'and begins to teach them. His compassion causes him to surrender His margins. At the end of a day of teaching, the disciples, clearly frustrated at yet another meeting, ask Jesus to send the crowds away to get food. Their hope is for some peace and quiet and a good meal, at last. Jesus, completely unreasonably, tells the disciples to feed the crowds themselves.

In doing this Jesus completely invades the margins of their time, treasure and their talents. Everyone of us have margins in our lives. Areas that are invisibly, but definitely off limits to Jesus' demands.

The apostles who preached repentance, healed the sick and cast out demons were now asked to serve a crowd as waiters. Humbling? For sure. Are we willing for Jesus to invade the margins of our talents and ministries? The exhausted and starving disciples, were asked to serve others food. How are we with the margins of our time?
To feed the crowd would have cost 8 month's wages. How unreasonable of Jesus to expect the poor disciples to provide when they had gone without a meal for the whole day? How are we with the margins of our treasure?

Most of us want multiplication without the invasion of our margins. We want to see Jesus use us powerfully to help many multitudes. But before this miracle of multiplication, came division. The bread had to be placed in Jesus' hands and broken before the miracle took place. When the margins of our lives are surrendered and placed at His disposal we will see more of His power multiplied through us.
And that is no picnic.


  1. Hi Alan
    Great article! We have been going through such a difficult - disastrous even - time, and this is a sobering reminder that the margins still have to be Jesus-sized, not reduced to my circumstances, preferences or fancies.


  2. Hey Colin, I am so sorry to hear that. God's grace, wisdom and courage to you. I'll be in Newcastle next week. How close is that to you?

    1. Distance is relative to travelling conditions - which are bad for our small island! It's about 130 miles. Are you here for a while?

  3. unfortunately not. just a week. helping with the transition of a church.would dig to connect.

  4. Would love to - maybe you could let me know your itinerary and I can see if I can somehow make a plan to come across?

    My email -
    Cell - +447855430382