Imagine you are one of Jesus disciples (shouldn’t be hard – we’re all disciples!) and He’s just wrapped up a conference late in the afternoon for about 5000 people. Somebody, trying to be helpful, suggests sending them home so they can find a place to stay and something to eat. As you’re nodding your head in agreement, Jesus turns and catches your eye and says, “You give them something to eat.” The only phrase that comes to mind is from an airline commercial, “Want to get away?”
12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” 13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.” Luke 9:12-13 NIV
I don’t know about you, but I would not have passed that quiz on the first try! Jesus was trying to get the disciples to grapple with a difficult challenge; it was within their ability to feed those people. They just didn’t have faith for it – yet.
Faith comes in two stages the first is learning to ask Jesus to do something. The second is doing it yourself. Let’s examine both.
“Asking” Faith – Nearly every miracle recorded in the gospels and Acts came as a result of a request from someone in need. My favorite is the Canaanite woman who wanted her daughter healed by Jesus. Remember, the Canaanites were the bad guys back in the days of Joshua and Caleb. Jesus tried to discourage her and she wouldn’t let go. Her daughter was delivered and Jesus concluded she had “great faith.” She initiated the request and persisted through the obstacles.
22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Matt 15:21-28
The Roman centurion (Mt 8:5-11) got his paralyzed servant healed the same way. Jesus described him as having “great faith.” Asking gets results and it is an expression of great faith. It draws on God’s power and results in miracles.
“I can do it” faith – Now let’s go back to the outdoor conference. Jesus asked the disciples to feed the 5000 because they were enrolled in a discipleship process to learn to do the works themselves. Now imagine you just prayed for a boy with seizures and suicidal tendencies. Your best prayer doesn’t work so the mother goes back to Jesus with a complaint. We later ask, “Lord, why couldn’t we cast it out? Because you have so little faith.” The disciples didn’t believe they could do it – Jesus goal was to convince them they could do it; convince them they could move mountains with a word.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” 17 “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt 17:16-20 NIV
Jesus expects His disciples (you and I) to operate in His power as the need arises and do even greater works (Jn 14:12-14). This second level of faith operates as Jesus’ ambassador – out of your own initiative; through your own words; motivated by your own dream. Listen to this same truth in Mark 11:
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:20-24 NIV
The Key to Marketplace Ministry – The purpose of marketplace ministry is to expand the Kingdom. God is accomplishing this through Kings that “believe they can do it.” When they run into a need or an obstacle, they can ask for help – or they can invoke the power that Jesus invested in them to break through and speak to the issue themselves.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:19-20 NIV
First we learn “asking faith.” God can intervene and do great miracles. Lesson two is that we can intervene by what we do. Re-read Matthew 25. The Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30) is all about what the servants did in the absence of the master. The Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Mt 25:31-46) is all about what people did to help others without being told – in the absence of the Lord’s specific guidance – out of their own initiative or dream.
While we’re asking “What would Jesus do?” Jesus is asking, “What would you do?”
We’ve been given the power, authority and a mandate to fill the earth with His glory and have fun doing it. We’ve made all our mistakes underestimating what we can do… underestimating the freedom the Lord gives us to dream big dreams and make them happen. When we decide to take the steps to make our dream come true we step into another dimension of faith that pleases the Lord. Jesus loves to work with friends and implement the will of God through the desires in the hearts of His people.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:1-2 NIV
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. Luke 10:17-19
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13 NKJV
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.