“Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Mark 8:8)
In our last post (Broken Pieces) we were looking at how Jesus’ blessing over the “whole” of the gift extended to the left over pieces. Not one broken piece was deemed useless. Just like our very own lives, given to us as a gift by God, and blessed by Him, even when broken, are usable for His perfect, unbroken purpose. But today, I do not want to focus on the broken pieces, rather, I would like to spend some time thinking about the ones who picked them up–the disciples.
First, it is important to note that this “picking up” was not a one time occurrence. In Mark 6:43 we are told, “the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces…”
As I read these passages, I pondered many things: how big were the baskets? where did they get them? why did they pick up the “broken pieces”? what did they do with them?
In the study notes of my Bible, there was some commentary that sought to explain or suggest some possibilities: 12 disciples/12 baskets/12 tribes of Isreal…the gathering of left overs was part of Jewish law not to waste…baskets of bread is a reminder of the Bread of the Presence left on the altar in the Tabernacle…
There is a great deal of symbolism in this story, to be sure, but, again, that is not my focus for today. The bottom line…the disciples, the followers of Christ, PICKED UP THE BROKEN PIECES. Not just to discard them in an appropriate trash bin, but placed them in a basket, to be used for another purpose. They might not have known what the purpose was going to be, but (probably on the instruction of Jesus) gathered them obediently.
Like the disciples, we are called to gather the broken pieces- of our own lives, and the lives of those around us. Nothing is to be wasted. The brokenness of ourselves can be used for His great purpose. I imagine that as the disciples gathered the broken pieces, they thought about how Jesus had gathered them- broken in different ways, sure, but broken nonetheless, and used them to do good things. They understood that they did not need to know what Jesus intended to do with these broken pieces, but that they would be needed, and it was their job to seek out the broken and gather them. I am sure when they completed their task, they brought their full baskets and laid them at Jesus’ feet.
We must also remember our own gathering-the time when we were picked up in our brokenness and brought to the feet of Jesus. In turn, we must listen when God calls us to pick up the broken pieces of those around us. We do not have to understand the purpose that God has for us OR for those we seek to gather, but we just walk in obedience, seeking the broken pieces within those around us, gently carrying them to the feet of Jesus.