One day, a mother was serving her family leftovers. She gave the one portion of spaghetti to her 6 year old son. But her 8 year old son also wanted some. The fussing started. After several unsuccessful attempts to end the dispute, the dad decided on a Biblical approach. Hoping to convince the 6 year old to share his portion, he said, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” The boy immediately responded, “Oh Dad, he would just make more!”
The Feeding of the 5,000 is the major turning point in Jesus’ life. It is the conclusion of His ministry in Galilee. From here he starts His trip to Jerusalem to die for the sins of mankind. It is the only miracle, besides His resurrection, that is mentioned in all four gospels. It is His most visible and extensive miracle with 5,000 men and at least an equal number of women and children as witnesses. It is not unreasonable to estimate the crowd to exceed 25,00. It is the largest work of divine creative power since creation week itself.
And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets. (Luke 9:12-17)
It was getting late and the people were hungry. The disciples came to Jesus with more than advice or a suggestion. They told Him what to do – “Send the multitude away.” It is like standing at Niagara Falls and wondering where to get a drink. But Jesus replied, “Give ye them to eat.” John 6:6 tells us that “…this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.”
When resources are low and responsibilities are great God already has the problem solved.
Jesus started with what the disciples had. They didn’t have enough money to buy enough food for everyone. The only thing they had was five loaves and 2 fishes generously donated by a little boy found by Andrew. That was enough. Before we ask God to do the impossible, let’s start with the possible and give Him what we have.
When we understand that it is our responsibility to “feed the multitude” and tell Jesus, “We don’t have the resources,” we are ready for His empowerment. Jesus challenges His followers with impossible tasks because He knows we can’t do them without Him. But if we give Him what we have, He will do the rest.
Jesus blessed the food, and broke it into pieces and gave to the disciples. The Greek language indicates Jesus kept giving, producing the bread and fish in His hands by the supernatural power of God. Jesus kept creating more and more. Possibly as He broke off a piece, the original remained intact.
Jesus is the producer, we are His distributors.
One follow-up lesson is that Jesus wants to give the multitudes of this world the Bread of Life through us. He has done His work on the cross. Now we are to distribute that message to everyone.
Another lesson is that if God is going to use you, He is going to have to break you. God uses broken things. The roof had to be broken to get the paralyzed man to Jesus. The alabaster box had to be broken to anoint Jesus. It wasn’t until Jesus broke the bread that He was able to feed the multitude.
Each person in the crowd did not receive a little piece of bread – which would have been a miracle in itself. Instead, they all ate as much as they wanted with 12 baskets left over. What appears to be insufficient is more than enough in Jesus’ hands.
Our inadequacy is an opportunity for God’s abundance.
We often feel our contribution to Jesus is meager, but He can use and multiply whatever we give Him, whether it is talent, time or treasure. When we give to Jesus, our resources are multiplied.
We often think that God wants and needs our strengths. He does when they are committed to Him. But what about our loaves and fishes, our ordinariness, our weaknesses? The truth is, these are harder to give to God.
Jesus was teaching His followers to lead with empty, upturned hands. He taught the apostles to face with complete abandon the impossible tasks they would soon encounter, admitting their own inadequacies in order to receive the Lord’s overabundant supply.
Look at your problems as opportunities for God to work. Give Him all we you and trust Him to meet your needs. Doing what you can with what you have is all you can do. If you do all you can, He will step in and do the rest.
When you give Jesus what you have, you never lose. You always end up with more blessings than when you started. The disciples are examples of what to do when faced with overwhelming need and underwhelming resources – trust God to supply what seems impossible.
I remember hearing a talk by Gene Krantz, the flight director for Apollo 13. You may remember the mission of Apollo 13 was interrupted by an explosion of an oxygen tank. Jim Lovell, commander of the mission, communicated to Krantz, “Houston, we have a problem.” It appeared to be an impossible task to return these 3 astronauts safely to earth. However, Krantz gathered his engineers together to determine exactly what resources were available to the astronauts. They came up with a plan and miraculously they landed safely in the Pacific Ocean. Krantz’s autobiography is entitled “Failure is not an option.”
In the same way, you may face some impossible situations. Rather than cry about your lack of resources, take an inventory of what you do have and give it all to God. He will see you through and bless you with more than you can imagine.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3:20)