One of the great miracles that Jesus did was the feeding of the five thousand. It is one of the few miracles that is recorded in all four gospels. Over the years there have been some who have tried to discount what happened there, but the reality is clear – Jesus took two fish and five loaves (think dinner rolls) and feed at least five thousand people.
It was certainly a great action that demonstrated His deity. The crowd recognized that reality and tried to make Him king as a result of that one action. It was also a great teaching opportunity for His disciples and for us. Let’s take just a few moments and consider the truths he communicated.
The first thing to note is that Jesus, along with the disciples was concerned about the people. It is highly unlikely that anyone would have starved in they missed their dinner that evening. They would have been hungry, but this was not a matter of life and death. While their spiritual well-being would have been Jesus greatest concern, it is clear the He cared for their physical discomfort.
The disciples saw the need and so urged Jesus to send the people away. They thought the only solution was to cut short the teaching so that the people would have time to find food. It seemed like an either/or situation to them, but the Lord planned on meeting both their spiritual and their physical hunger.
The next thing Jesus did was challenge the disciples to meet the need. He told them to give the people something to eat. They were given the responsibility of caring for others. After a quick calculation they were forced to recognize that their resources were inadequate. They were too far away from anyplace were that quantity of food could be purchased and the price would far exceed their funds.
Jesus did not allow them to use their inadequacy as an excuse. They needed to identify what resources they had (two fish, five loaves) and then use them with His help to feed everyone. The food multiplied only as they distributed it. They were then reminded of the need to be good stewards and collect the leftovers. The fact that he could make food appear did not remove their responsibility of using what was provided well.
We too, are challenged to care for the spiritual and physical needs of those around us – a task for which we are woefully inadequate. The Lord calls on us to take the resources He has placed in our hand and to use them for His glory and the good of others. When we depend on Him and do what seems impossible He blesses our efforts. May we never shrink back from the opportunities He gives us.