“Send the crowds away.” (Mt. 14:15)
These words were spoken by the disciples to Jesus because they were concerned about the crowds needing to get something to eat. Jesus responded that they did not need to go away, that the disciples should give them something to eat. The disciples protested that they only had five loaves and two fish. Jesus asked that the loaves and the fish be brought to him. He gave thanks, and broke them and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the crowd. Matthew reports that “they all ate and were satisfied,” a crowd of five thousand men, besides women and children.
This was not the first time that the disciples tried to keep people from getting to Jesus. We might recall the time when people were bringing their little children to Jesus to have him touch them. “When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” Luke 18:15-17)
The disciples rebuked Bartimaeus and told him to be quiet as he shouted out to Jesus to heal his blindness. (Mark 10:46-52) In another incident they told Jairus, who had asked Jesus to come and heal his daughter, not to bother Jesus any longer after word came that his daughter had died. But Jesus went on to raise his daughter to life. (Luke 8:49-50)
How often do we unwittingly seek to separate others or ourselves from Jesus?
The possibilities are numerous — letting our kid’s soccer game or an invitation to play golf on Sunday morning get in the way of attending church; sleeping in and missing a time we had set aside for prayer; being a bad example to our children on an issue of integrity; holding on to anger and refusing to forgive another for some slight or wrong done to us; any kind of sin that tends to drive a wedge between us and God. Even though we may not realize it, all of these examples tend to build separation between us or others and God.
Rather, our actions should be like the friends of the paralytic who carried him on a mat and tried to lay him before Jesus to heal him. When they could not break through the crowd to get to Jesus, they carried the paralytic up on the roof, removed the tiles and lowered him down in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith and the efforts to which they had gone, he healed the paralytic and forgave him of his sins. (Luke 5:17-26)
One of our prime responsibilities as Christian parents is to introduce our children to Jesus. We should encourage them by our word and example to grow in their faith so that they will be able to live out that faith in their own lives.
Jesus called us to make disciples and teach them everything he commanded. Then he promised his presence would always be with us.
“I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.” (Psalm 119:58)