Feeding a Lot More Than Five Thousand
August 29 - Nº 241 Matthew 14:13-23; Mark 6:30-46; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15
After hearing that John the Baptist had been executed, Jesus got in a boat and headed to a remote place so he and his disciples could be alone. They sailed toward a small village called Bethsaida. However, the word got out and many other people who lived around the Sea of Galilee headed to Bethsaida as well. Soon there was a large crowd. Jesus began to teach the people and heal the ones who were sick. The numbers grew until there were about 5,000 men plus many more women and children. Late in the afternoon, the 12 disciples came to Jesus and said, “Don’t you think it’s time to send the people away? It’s getting very late. If they don’t leave now, it will be too late to find food or a place to spend the night.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You can give them something to eat.” Jesus already knew how he would feed them, but he turned to Philip and said, “Where can we buy bread for these people?” Philip was from Bethsaida (see #217 - Jesus' First Followers), so he knew there was nowhere to buy that much food. Even if there was, Jesus and his disciples could not afford it. “Lord, not even eight months’ salary could buy enough bread for all these people to have one bite each!” he replied. “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked his disciples. No one knew, so he said, “Go find out.” Andrew returned with a young boy who had five small barley loaves and two small fish. “Obviously this isn’t enough for so many people!” he complained out loud. “Bring me the loaves and fish,” Jesus said. Then he instructed the disciples to tell everyone to sit on the grassy hillside in groups of hundreds and fifties. Jesus took the loaves and fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks. Then he broke the bread and the fish and gave it to his disciples. Can you imagine the disciples’ initial hesitancy as they began to distribute the food? They probably cautioned the first few groups not to take very much so there would be some left for the others. But the food kept multiplying. And by the end of the meal, they could generously invite everyone to take as much as they wanted saying things like: “Don’t worry—there’s plenty more where that came from!” Everyone ate until they were completely satisfied. When they were finished, the disciples filled 12 baskets with the broken pieces that were left over. After experiencing this amazing miracle, the people began to say, “Surely this must be the Prophet and Leader that Moses predicted would one day come into the world” (see Deuteronomy 18:15). They decided Jesus should be their King whether he planned to be or not! But Jesus knew that all they really wanted was the temporary, earthly rewards he offered (like food and freedom from Rome). They were not interested in having an eternal, heavenly relationship with his Father. So, he quietly slipped away into the hills to spend time alone with God.
The disciples were completely incapable of accomplishing the task Jesus gave them. There was no way they could feed more than 5,000 hungry people! But because they obeyed Jesus and brought him the little bit of food they found, he multiplied it in a miraculous way. What we have to offer God is always going to be inadequate. But if we are willing to bring it to Him, He will make it extravagant! What do you need to offer to God today?