One of Jesus’ most famous miracles, recorded in all four Gospels, was when He took a few loaves and fish and multiplied them to feed 5000+ people.
Picture the scene -
Crowds have left the relative security and convenience of the town and followed Jesus into open country to witness His teaching and in many cases request healing. He seems to be like a new Moses or Elijah. They’re wondering if He might be the Messiah promised by the Old Testament prophets.
Some of these people may have already heard Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where He promised that those who ‘seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness’ would have their day to day needs like food and clothing met too by their kind ‘Father in heaven’. These folk are doing what Jesus said. They are seeking first God’s kingdom, making their priority the ‘spiritual food’ of listening to God’s words from the Preacher’s lips and guess what? Their faith is rewarded, their physical hunger is satisfied also! The Lord’s words can be trusted!
Now on this occasion Jesus is actually tired and grieving the recent execution of John the Baptist. He and His disciples need some rest in peace and quiet, yet He not only welcomes these crowds and tells them more about God’s kingdom, He heals those that need it. Even then, He does not dismiss them but in compassion He shows them hospitality and provides them with a nourishing meal. We read, ‘They all ate and were satisfied.’
How reassuring to think that our Master looks on us with such compassion and concern and is prepared to inconvenience Himself to minister to our needs! What an encouragement this is to pray to Him and in His powerful name. To do as the Apostle Peter urges and ‘Cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us’.
This event also gives a further clue to Jesus’ identity. Who can multiply food like this? To take the contents of a young lad’s lunchbox and expand it to feed 5000? Surely only the One Who multiplies food every year, ordering the seasons, sending sunshine and rain, giving seedtime and harvest so we can have our daily bread. The One Who created the system and process which normally take a year, on this occasion delivers the product in an instant of our time!
So who is this humble carpenter from Nazareth? Somehow He is ‘Jehovah Jireh’, the Lord God Who provides food for the world. Only now the eternal Word has become flesh and made His dwelling among us. He is ‘the Bread of Life’, necessary to our salvation. These folk are witnessing the presence and glory of God in the countryside of Galilee!
Let’s consider one more thing from this miraculous event and it’s our potential involvement in the miracle! When the disciples ask Jesus about food for the crowd He says, ‘You give them something to eat.’ And He doesn’t just conjure food out of thin air, He gladly uses the willing donation of a young lad’s lunch.
Here’s the principle: the disciples bring what they have to Jesus and distribute what He gives them back and somewhere in the middle the miracle occurs!
I wonder what the young lad was thinking, had he any inkling of just how amazing a thing was about to happen? Perhaps he just wanted to share his lunch with Jesus! But how wonderful, when we surrender all we have to Him, even if it seems quite modest to us, He multiplies it and gives us back so much more!
We may think our lives insignificant, our offering very small. Jesus gives thanks for it and using us and our contribution, makes something beautiful that will be a blessing to many!
This is a wonderful account of an amazing miracle that teaches much if we’re willing to learn. In continuity with the Old Testament prophets, Jesus of Nazareth gives assurance that when people put God first He will provide our needs. In multiplying this food He identifies Himself with God the Maker and Sustainer of all things but more, He invites us to be involved in the miracle. He asks us to share His concern for those in need and bring all we are and have to Him in faith.
Let’s do that and see what wonderful things He will do!