It’s so easy to quickly read over accounts in the Bible that we’ve heard since we were a kid, and have read many times over; we know the story well, the characters, the lessons we learn from them, what it tells us about Jesus, or the disciples.
So last week I decided to give some time to re-reading with intention, the three miracles that we’d looked at during our series so far. Jesus walking on water, Jesus calming the storm and the feeding of the 5000. Some of these accounts are recorded in more than one book in the Bible, and it was really interesting to see what details one book gave over another.
The miracle that grabbed my attention was the feeding of the 5000, so well-known to me. So I asked myself these questions: ‘What did this account tell me about God? How did that miracle impact me?’ and ‘How does it change the way I live my life or approach God?’.
Feeding of the 5000 - Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-16
“You give them something to eat” - this was the first thing that surprised me, which I hadn’t really noticed on reading before. The disciples were probably tired and possibly wanted a little time without the crowd, telling Jesus to send them away to find some food. Instead, Jesus tells the disciples to provide! It made me wonder what Jesus was thinking in making such a proposition. Sometimes, we’re too quick to settle on the fact that we don’t have the ability, creativity, or even strength to pursue a solution. Perhaps Jesus wanted to see if they had really taken in all the other miracles he had done prior to this moment. Would the disciples be bold enough to ask Jesus to do something? Or had they still not realised or understood the extent of the greatness of who He was?
So provision comes, by means of a little boy’s lunch. 5 loaves and 2 small fish. The disciples thought it wasn’t enough... “all we have are 5 loaves and 2 small fish.” Couldn’t Jesus see that this was ridiculous! However, that was the provision, that was what was available. So what did Jesus do? It says “He looked up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves”. The miracle hadn’t taken place at that point – still 5 loaves and 2 fish...but Jesus thanked God for what was provided! How easy it is for us to see and know God’s provision, but forget to thank Him for it. I believe it was a key moment prior to the miracle. Jesus thanked His Father first.
Then, Jesus hands out the bread and the fish to his disciples to distribute - I wonder what they thought was going to happen at that point?! “Are we going to look really ridiculous here? But hey, we must obey so let’s just hand out what He’s given us...” so it was in the action of handing out and distributing the food that they kept feeding and feeding and feeding all those people!
Sometimes we can’t see what God will do, or know how He’ll do it, until we step out and act.
The crowd ate “as much as they wanted” or other gospels say “until they were satisfied” and then they gather up the leftovers. What? Leftovers? From 5 loaves and 2 small fish? Yes...12 baskets full! We’re not told how big these baskets were, but they only started with a boy’s lunch, so 12 baskets of whatever size was a miracle too – not only did Jesus feed the whole crowd, there was surplus.
So you see – God does provide. He is our Jehovah Jireh. The surplus speaks to me, not just about God’s ability to provide over and above what we need, but that there’s more to share, more for others. Out of the overflow of His provision for us, is plenty for to share with those around us; for them to experience a God who loves and cares for them too.
I continue to see and believe that in Jesus there is no lack, we sometimes have to be bold to ask for what we require, other times we simply need to thank God for what’s in our hands and see Him do something great as we put our faith into action.