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Meeting the Need


Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.

14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.


15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”


17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.


18 “Bring them here to me,” he said.

19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.


Matthew 14:13-21 (NIV)

This is the first of our teaching of the month series, a light look at the word of God provoking questions and thoughts on well known stories. We are looking at the event as recorded in Matthews Gospel.


So here we pick up the story just after Jesus heard the news of the death of John the Baptist. He needed some alone time, he needed to grieve the loss of his kinsman, friend and to paraphrase what Jesus himself said of John; a man without equal. A great loss to Jesus and the world. 

Jesus had some time but not long after the people followed and they came in their thousands, maybe even some of the crowd were grieving too? Maybe some were coming to Jesus seeking solace? John the Baptist was dead and so everyone that followed John would be grieving and those that followed Jesus teaching would be too.

 

John's told his followers that Jesus was the one true Messiah, he even sent his followers to question Jesus to be sure of it. Is this why jesus showed compassion on the people in what should have been a private moment of mourning? Did he feel there pain?

As the day drew on the disciples began to wonder things like “it's nearly dinner time, what will these people eat?” and surely they thought things like “do they plan to stay the night out here with us?” It is reported in the account that the men numbered 5000, this does not account for all the woman and children so the actual number could have been double this figure!

 

The disciples may have had these thoughts but Jesus didn’t. He already knew what he was going to do, reading between the lines I get the impression the disciples had had enough of the crowds and so wanted to have some dinner and get to sleep, Jesus had another plan. Up until now Jesus had provided the spiritual needs of the crowd, through healing, blessing and teaching, now the needs of the crowd became more practical.

The disciples were looking at a logistical nightmare:

  • Remote Location
  • No Shelter
  • No Food

What does Jesus say to the requests from the disciples to send them home or send them to the villages? (which by the way is sound thinking on the disciples part if you are limited to human resources)

 

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 


Minds blown! The disciples must have been thrown into confusion by this answer, how? What? Is this a test? 


The disciples offer this up:


17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.


If it was a test had they failed? Or did they do exactly what they should have done? What would we have done in the same circumstance?

We cannot meet the need. When God has asked us to complete a task we do not have the resources for are we supposed to sort it out ourselves in our own strength,ability or knowledge? Or do we do what the disciples did and offer the problem up to God? 


​​ 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. 


Matthew, in his account, is trying to get us to understand the right course of action is to turn to God. Look what Jesus does next, He solves the problem! In trusting in Jesus the disciples could meet the needs of the gathered people. 


Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience and wanted to emphasise that Jesus was God, that He was the one written about in the Jewish scriptures, the old testament.

As we can see here his actions fulfil the Old Testament prophecy:


Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power.
     He will rule with a powerful arm.
     See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
  He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
     He will carry the lambs in his arms,
  holding them close to his heart.
     He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
 
(Isaiah 40:10-11)

Jesus, the embodiment of the Sovereign Lord is feeding his flock miraculously, He is showing everyone what the Kingdom of Heaven is like here now on earth. The message and lesson was for the gathered people and his disciples but it is also for us. There is more to this story than just God's provision to the people, this story has a deep message for those that work for the Lord under his provision.

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 

This verse's meaning has lost its meaning in the feeding of so many. The disciples, the workers picked up twelve baskets full of bread: What does that tell us about God's provision for those that work for him that trust in him? 

Each one trusted and obeyed Jesus teaching, they gave out what they didn't have and were blessed with more! Everyone present was served with food provided by Jesus.

12 Disciples had 12 baskets full of left overs, more food than any of them needed for that day! They trusted, obeyed and were rewarded with heavenly provision.

Now lets be clear, I am not promoting a prosperity gospel, in fact I do not believe in any such Gospel. What I am very much promoting is that our obedience and trust leads to God always meeting our needs.

The lesson for us I believe is to trust in God's provision, give even when we do not have enough to give, obey when it seems like it cannot succeed. If we hold to these teachings we will not fail! No one becomes poor through giving.

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