The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is the only story told in all four gospels so it must have something important in it that Jesus wants us to know.
Three of the gospels say that it was after Jesus heard about the beheading of John the Baptist that he withdrew and went to a quiet place but the people seeing Him went after Him. Jesus was filled with compassion for them and began to teach them. Apparently He was a bit long winded (notice it was the disciples who complained not those that were listening!) and the disciples came to Jesus to “suggest” He let them go because it had been a long day and the people were hungry.
Not a problem for Jesus! He told them “well, you give them something to eat!” That might have been possible if it was a family of four … but 5,000 men? That’s a different story. Oh, wait … there were a bit more than that if it’s anything like today’s meetings. There are always more women than men in church and wherever there are women there are bound to be a few kidlets, plus toddlers, plus grammer school age, junior highers, and teenagers! So let’s add another 20-30,000 for good measure!
Jesus asked Philip, “Where should we buy bread so they can eat?” Jesus already knew what He was going to do but He was asking His disciples to test them! Did they have enough faith to feed that many? Did they trust Him to do so?
“Oh, Jesus, we don’t have enough cash on us nor do we have the time to go into town to get enough food of all these folks. Plus the hour is late, the stores are probably closed and even if they were open I doubt we could buy enough or carry it back and prepare it … You know, there are a lot of issues to deal with here!”
So Jesus asks, “Well, what DO you have?” “Uh, well, Oh here … this little guy has five loaves of bread and two fishies. It’s really just a little tiny bit but hey, You asked and I’m answering!”
The disciples give it to Jesus probably a little sheepishly and laughing inside as to the ridiculousless of it. That doesn’t bother Jesus though and He takes what the disciples give Him and gives instructions to the disciples to organize the multitude into groups of 50 and 100.
Can you even imagine what the disciples thought? “Well, let’s humor Him and do what He says” and they go about quickly shouting out instructions to group themselves into 50’s and 100’s.
Jesus takes what they give Him, He looks up to His Father, gives thanks for the little bit He has, blesses it, brakes it into even smaller fragments and then gives it back to the discipes and tells them the craziest thing they’ve heard so far … “Now you give them to eat”.
Break that last paragraph down. Jesus takes what we offer Him … our insecurities, our lack, our insignificance, our questions, our inabilities and looks up to His Father and thanks Him for us! Then He blesses our lives beyond measure and tells us … oops, forgot a step there … then He breaks us. He doesn’t break us to destroy us but to test us. There is a whole message here on what brokenness does to us and brings forth in our lives. But after we are given thanks over, blessed and broken then He tells us to “Go give it away!”
I laugh when I picture this. There are the twelve big brawny disciples lined up in front of Jesus each holding a basket (they must have borrowed them also) and into each basket He puts a few pieces of a torn off loaf of bread and even fewer bites of fish. And Jesus instructs them “go feed them”! What in the world did they think?
“OK Jesus … I don’t think so! This was Your idea. You started this fiasco, now here take my basket and YOU FEED THEM!”
Or were they tempted to eat what was in their basket because they were hungry also and then turn around and say, “Sorry folks!”
No, they obeyed as crazy as it sounded. They obeyed I think with shaking knees and perhaps a little bit of fear as to thinking they were the biggest fools of all! This time Jesus lost it. We are going to be the laughing stalk of the desert and we will get trampled by this hungry mob!
Nevertheless …. they did what Jesus told them to do. I wish I knew how the miracle happened. When they turned around to go out into the crowd were the baskets suddenly full? Or when the first one took did it just replenish right then? Or if the basket was full and as it got to the bottom did it fill up real quick? Or did it stay fragments? Or, or, or … whatever we know that after EVERYBODY was fed and FULL there were 12 basketFULLs leftover.
I guess if we knew how it happened we would have made a formula out of it or called our church “The First Church of the Multiplied Food” or somesuch.
We come to Jesus and give Him our ALL. He takes us, blesses us and allows us to be broken that we might give out to others. We are to turn the God within us loose to others that are in need, to others that are hungry and don’t even know what they are hungering after!
My husband has often said that the greatest hostage crisis in the world today is the church. We as God’s people are holding Him hostage by NOT giving Him out. We have the answer! We have a great big God inside of us and what are we doing with Him?
All around us are people in need. Give them Jesus. Lay hands on the sick. Pray with those in need. Give what you have. You are not the miracle … HE IS! Don’t let fear take over. You are only responsible to give and it is up to Him to do the miracle however He wants to do it.
Today, go TURN GOD LOOSE!
(Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-14)
Thank you to my husband, Ronn, for the above insights. I’ve heard him preach this often … I’ve just changed it a bit and added my personal insights and style. Love you babe!