Apr 6, 2022
What began as five loaves of bread and two fish from a boy’s lunch fed well over 5000 people – with leftovers to spare! We’ve all heard this story. Let’s look at this passage with fresh eyes as we study Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-15.
Dear Most Holy God…we are indeed privileged to come before you and to sit at your feet. Thank you for meeting us each where we are and for guiding us as we study your Word. God, I pray that you would forgive me of all my sins so that I may be a clean vessel to hear your voice clearly. We know that there is something specific that you want us each to learn and know today, and we humbly ask you to open our ears and hearts to receive your teaching. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
If you’ve been around the Christian faith for very long, you likely know the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand that is chronicled in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-15. Maybe that is even how you happened upon today’s podcast! But even if you know the story by heart, we should go back to the Bible and look at it with fresh eyes.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to turn our brains off when we “know something so well”? That is precisely why we need to remind ourselves that God’s Word is living and active…meaning that there is something new for us to discover EVERY time we read it. God’s news is never old news. We will never, on this earth, come to understand EVERYTHING God has to teach us, even from a single passage.
So let me encourage you today to engage your mind and imagination as I read this story…especially if it is familiar to you. I know I often tout this podcast as one you can listen to as you are driving or walking or doing chores…but…if it is possible, I encourage you to stop for a moment and really concentrate and imagine the scene as I read Mark 6:30-44 from the New Living Translation.
30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
35 Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. 36 Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”
37 But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money[a] to buy food for all these people!”
38 “How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.”
They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”
39 Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred.
41 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. 42 They all ate as much as they wanted, 43 and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. 44 A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.[b]
I’ve heard so many teachings on this passage.
I’ve learned how God used this day to grow the faith of the disciples as they were given the opportunity to actually hand out the food as it was multiplied. And then walk away with a basket full of leftovers each.
I’ve learned how the people must have viewed the event as they realized that Jesus would always have time for them and would never send them away hungry.
And I’ve looked at this story from the little boy’s viewpoint – imagining how he felt as he gave his lunch away, only to see a crowd of people filled by his own unselfish act.
But today, I couldn’t help but read this story from the viewpoint of Jesus himself.
The disciples had returned from their mission and were telling Jesus of their adventures, but there was so much more happening. Matthew 14:13 begins this passage with As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. Other translations make it clear that the news that Jesus heard that sent him to seek solace was the death of His friend, cousin, and ministry co-worker, John the Baptist - who had been disgustingly beheaded by a crazed ruler.
King Jesus had stepped down from heaven…forsaking His glory and riches and reign….into a world riddled with sin and evil. He was born in a stable, grew up in a poor family in a country that was persecuted by Roman rule, and had his life on the line several times. But He had John. John and Jesus met while they were both still in the womb. The Bible is silent on the days of their youth, but we know that, culturally, families stuck together. And we know that John was there to prepare the way for Jesus. He taught of Him, and then stepped out of the way when Jesus was ready to step into His ministry. And Jesus LOVED John…He said there was no one born who was greater than John.
Jesus was surely heartbroken at John’s death. And He needed to be alone.
We’ve all been there…when ALL we need is for God to take care of us.
And God did take care of Jesus…by way of a boat. Our God is so creative. We can trust that when we walk in God’s will, He will always give us exactly what we need. Jesus…the Son of God…had a moment in His humanity where He needed to be alone with God…and God made sure He had that moment … by giving Him a boat.
God will always give us what we need.
The crowd didn’t know Jesus needed to alone though, and they found out where He was going and they followed Him.
When Jesus saw the crowd, He had compassion on them. Luke says in chapter 9 verse 11 He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.
The text says that Jesus had compassion on the people and He taught them and healed them…but looking from Jesus’ perspective, I can see how God was AGAIN taking care of Jesus by giving Him exactly what He needed – the opportunity to operate in His ordained purpose.
Have you ever stepped into your calling? Really stepped into it? I can remember when our dear worship leader lost her mother. After handling and attending the funeral, she made her way back home to Florida, where she proceeded to lead worship for one of our gatherings. As she led, she told us that leading worship is what she was put on this earth to do.
When we step into our calling, we certainly bless others, but God blesses the one who is obedient even more! When we step into our calling, we may think we are being obedient to God…and we are…but it is really God who is taking care of us, giving us exactly what WE need.
A writer who writes, a healthcare worker who cares for the sick, and a mother who cheers on her child all have one thing in common. They all get energized and fulfilled when they are doing what they are called to do. God knows that operating in our God-given gifting propels us forward like nothing else can – and He gives us the opportunity to use the gifts He has given us, because He knows that is what we need.
Jesus’ gift was to love. His purpose that day was to teach and to heal. And God gave Jesus what He needed.
Jesus’ further calling was to showcase God’s power and to teach others to do the same. And God gave Him THAT opportunity.
The disciples noticed that the crowd was hungry. The disciples thought that good leadership would be to allow the people to go eat. But Jesus taught them that true leadership hinges on a dependence of God’s power.
So Jesus harnessed that power…and God faithfully provided what Jesus needed.
Jesus took the five small loaves and the two fish and offered them to God, who miraculously multiplied them – giving them the power to nourish the bodies of well over 5000 people.
We can trust that God will always give us what we need …
Jesus needed to be alone in a time of grief…and God provided the boat.
Jesus needed to serve…and God gave Him the opportunity to heal and teach.
Jesus needed to showcase God’s power, so He lifted His hands to heaven in total dependence on God…and God provided a multiplication of His power.
Do you ever wonder if walking in the flesh was difficult for Jesus? We tend to dismiss that thought – because Jesus is God. But Jesus was also fully human. And what He was asked to do was a lot!
But He went to God…in solitude…in His calling…and in total dependence on His power. And God never let Him down.
God gave Jesus exactly what He needed to do what He was called to do. And when we go to Him and walk in OUR calling, He will give US what we need.
Even when Jesus was tired and what was ahead of Him looked impossible, He thrived, because He relied on God. And God provided exceedingly and abundantly beyond.
Father God…thank you for this new perspective on the feeding of the 5000. Thank you for teaching us that YOU are enough, and that you will always provide us with what we need. God, I thank you for always being there and for allowing us to meet you in the one-on-one. I thank you for giving us each a ministry – a calling – a job to do for you, and for reminding us that when we step into that calling, you bless us and those we minister to. And I thank you for always being willing to send your power. God, Women World Leaders would not be in existence if not for your power. Nor would we each be walking individually without the strength that you so graciously give us on a daily basis. We thank you, and we recognize that you have called us, you are walking with us, and you will continue to empower us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.