Wednesday, April 19, 2023

A Boxing Match With Five Thousand Hungry Men

Suggested Reading: Matthew 14:13-21

I have always enjoyed the Rocky movies. They don't have the greatest acting or even the greatest plots but they have a central character who is compelling. The characteristic that makes Rocky Rocky is the fact that he never quits. Rocky was not all that skilled as a fighter, though he trained his rear end off. But Rocky was never willing to lay down. Even when beaten to a bloody pulp, Rocky would get up and go another round until he was finally able to find an opening in his increasingly tired opponent. That unwillingness to let being tired, beaten up, or bloody keep him down is what turned Rocky into a champion.

Believe it or not, Rocky had a lot in common with Jesus. In Matthew 14, Jesus had had a grueling schedule and then got the news that John the Baptist had been murdered by Herod. Exhausted, physically and emotionally, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14, NLT).  In spite of the fact that he was tired and that he wanted time alone to deal with the emotional toll of John the Baptist's death, Jesus didn't turn away a chance for ministry when it presented itself. And when he took the time to minister, even in his weakened state, God chose to bring about one of Jesus' great miracles. Jesus' compassion led to a time of teaching and then to Jesus' command that the disciples feed all of these people. Jesus, low on energy, low on resources, and needing rest, fed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish, even though no one would have faulted Jesus for taking some time off to recover.

Sometimes life gets exhausting. Life can be hard and overwhelming. You may be tired and emotionally drained. But whatever your condition, don't turn away from the opportunities for ministry that God brings directly into your path. Your time of greatest weakness may be the time God chooses to use you in the greatest ways.

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