13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18“Bring them here to me,” he said. 19And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Matthew 14:13-20
It dawned on me today that there is a precious gem locked in this portion of scripture that I didn’t truly pay attention to over the years. To think that the disciples had the honor of walking from town to town with Jesus Christ, watching him perform miracle after miracle, teaching the crowds, scribes and pharisees, and never turning away from any need that came across his path. Just like the lady with the issue of blood, Jesus knew power had gone out from him, healing and restoring her – not simply because she touched him, but because she did so with a zeal and faith knowing that Christ was her only hope of being restored, and Jesus knew the very moment she stepped out in faith and touched him, that her faith had made her well.
I marvel at the unbelief or perhaps doubt that the disciples continued to walk in despite all they had witnessed in the presence and daily ministry of the Lord.
Jesus had just heard of the beheading of John the Baptist, and so he had gone to a quiet place out on the water, perhaps to mourn, to be alone with his father, and to deal with the grief he was experiencing. The people knew Jesus was in the area, and they left their homes, towns and cities and followed after him. When he returned to shore, immediately he began healing their sick because he had compassion on them.
The two distinct differences I see here is how Christ looked at the crowd, and how the disciples looked at the same crowd. Jesus saw their lack, their needs, their illnesses, and was driven by compassion to heal. The disciples on the other hand coming from their business sense of mind, looked at the crowd, saw no food, and began calculating what cost it might be to feed all these people. Their solution was easy: “Lord send them home, let them go and eat in their own environment, if they are serious they will be back tomorrow“.
Jesus looked through the lens of his father, and told the disciples, “they don’t have to go away, YOU give them something to eat.” Can you imagine their first thoughts? Seriously – they must have wondered if Jesus had finally lost his mind. There was no food! No grain bins nearby! No ovens to bake bread! We must give them SOMETHING to eat?!?!
The lad with the five loaves and two fish was the stage being setup for a miracle. Still the disciples didn’t see it! Jesus already knew what was going to happen, and that he was going to stretch his disciples faith. I am convinced they didn’t see it until it happened. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, Jesus gave thanks! Then he gave the food to his disciples and they gave the food to the people.
The 20th verse tells us “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.“
So, I began to look at how this might apply today in our lives. The contrast of the feeding of the 5000 and the many varied situations we find ourselves faced with today is only different by way of association. How we approach a circumstance, how we examine it, and how we deal with it. We have the choice like the disciples to send the people (circumstance) away, and actually hope that it doesn’t return later on in life. But Jesus says the same thing as he did back then ~ “YOU give them something to eat”. Who is “them” and what is “something” and how do they “eat“?
Jesus Christ has already made provision for us. When someone comes across our lives, and we look at their situation as being hopeless, beyond repair, perhaps even destructive in nature, at that very moment, we are standing in that place where we have the ability to “send them away” or to “give them something to eat”.
These accounts are written for our benefit, so that our faith may increase, so that we may begin to walk out in faith and actually take the five loaves and two fish situation – offer it back to Christ, allowing him to bless it, and then trusting us to be the vehicle that delivers his provision, be it healing, a miracle, the meeting of a financial need, a listening ear, a cooked meal, a loving caring heart, tank of gas – the list is endless.
We choose whether we want to be the conduit for a miracle looking through the Lord’s lens knowing that what we have to work with is nothing, but after he blesses it and gives thanks, the very nothing that we have, for someone in need becomes everything.
I believe that day, the disciples grew in their knowledge and understanding of the Lord. They partook in and witnessed a major miracle, after they went to the Lord and told him what they had to work with, how he multiplied it, and how after everyone had eaten their fill, there were still 12 baskets left over. How many disciples were there…? Interesting!
My prayer is that the next time we come into a place where there is a need, be it spiritual, physical or emotional, that we will be bold, and come to Jesus, present him with what we have, let him bless it, give thanks, and allow someone’s life to be changed forever. In so doing, based on this portion of scripture there will be excess, there will be left overs from what Christ can do in and through each of us, his abundance cannot be quenched.
If all we have to work with is five loaves and two fish – it will always be enough…