SECTION 7: THE WITHDRAWL OF THE KING
THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND PLUS
THE LITTLE IS MUCH LESSON
Scripture To Consider:
“When Jesus heard it [the news of John the Baptist’s death], He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.”
“When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’ And they said to Him, ‘We have here only five loaves and two fish.’ Jesus said, ‘Bring them here to Me.’“
“Then Jesus commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14.13-21
Something To Consider:
When Jesus learned that John the Baptist had been put to death, and possibly had been told that Herod believed John was risen from the dead, and that Herod identified Jesus with the man he had murdered, our Lord withdrew from the scenes where multitudes had been attending His ministry. Jesus sought some seclusion to both rest with His disciples who had just returned from their great mission, and also to instruct them in reference to His own person, work, and approaching death.
Therefore, Jesus entered into a boat and crossed to the northern shore of the lake to a desert place where He might be uninterrupted. However, when the crowds heard where Jesus was they followed Him from all the neighboring cities. According to Matthew, “Jesus was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” Finally, Jesus performed what is often regarded as His most remarkable miracle. With five loaves of bread and two fish He fed five thousand men, besides women and children. It is the one miracle which is recorded in all four gospels.
Here for the first time the story of Matthew unites with that of John. The fact is not of great importance until we remember that in John’ gospel an interpretation is given, and the meaning of the miracle is set forth in the sermon which our Lord delivered, subsequent to the miracle, when Jesus declared Himself to be the bread of life.
The account in Matthew reveals the deep sympathy of our Lord and His divine power; but read in the light of the fourth gospel the miracle becomes a parable concerning His person and work. John’s account emphasizes Jesus’ saying, “I am the bread of life. He [or she] who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he [or she] who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
The multitudes did not understand the truth thus depicted; nor was it then disclosed to His disciples, but for every true follower of Christ these gospel accounts bring both familiar and important spiritual lessons of a lifetime. Therefore, are we to be counted as true followers of Jesus who are willing to study to show ourselves approved unto God? If indeed willing, there are many lessons to be learned in studying the life of Christ and in observing all that He has taught and commanded!
Something Else To Consider:
First, we must seek to relieve the physical needs of men, women, and young people, but we must be more concerned still with the deeper spiritual needs of those same individuals, of which the hunger and thirst of that fainting multitude were symbolic. If the spiritual needs of us and of others does not take precedence over the physical, then what we do becomes no more than a government entitlement program, doing more harm than good. Hopefully the following lessons will bring added clarity to the spiritual aspects of true biblical ministry to the masses.
Secondly, we must believe that Jesus Christ can supply these needs of the soul, this hunger of the heart, this fainting for spiritual food. It is the divine Christ who foresaw His rejection and death. It is the same Christ who was crucified and who rose again who alone can supply this spiritual need within us all. Jesus did feed a multitude by the sea, but His real mission was to give His life for the salvation of the world.
Thirdly, faith is the condition of receiving the life which Christ provides. We must identify ourselves with this Savior if we are to find the satisfaction which is promised. There must be an appropriation of the grace which Christ supplies for every need. There must be a dependence upon Him for the satisfaction of every spiritual need.
Fourthly, Christ expects His followers to help Him in the work and to bear the truth concerning Himself to the entire world, even as of old He ordered the disciples to give to the multitudes the broken bread. Faith naturally results in a desire to share and not simply keep. The gospel message is a trust. The messengers of the King must be eager to continue His work here on planet earth.
Fifthly, the blessing of Christ preceded and seems to have produced the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand plus. It is certain that His blessing can secure great results from the simplest efforts in His service. When we hesitate because we are conscious that our gifts are small and our endeavors are weak, we must remember the five loaves and two fish which were offered to the Lord by a young lad, and which He used to feed so many with so little. Therefore, the little is much lesson is a lesson of a lifetime to be learned by all true followers of Jesus Christ!
Our sixth important lesson to learn from the feeding of the five thousand plus, is that we must be ready also to carry out His commands and to obey His instructions. It required the obedience of faith on the part of His early disciples to become real assistants in that great work of grace and compassion. If we expect our efforts to be blessed, we also must both trust and obey every command of Christ.
And finally, our seventh lesson instructs us that we must be careful also as to the leftover fragments of God’s blessings and allow nothing to be wasted of all that our Lord provides for body, mind, or soul. We must treat with contempt nothing which He gives, however small. The fragments in reference to which Jesus gave such careful commands were not the crumbs left by the eaters, but the portions which had been broken by Christ and His disciples. These fragments were to be kept to supply future needs, but they also would be for days to come reminders of the miraculous power of their Lord and now our Lord.
There are many suggestions both in the written Word of God and in our daily experiences to remind us of the grace of our Lord; but none is more important than the memorial feast of communion, which Jesus ordained, at which, as we partake of the broken bread, we are reminded anew of His body which was broken for us, and of the life He has given that we by faith in Him may truly live while alive on planet earth.
Something More To Consider:
Digressing for a moment in time, Noah was one little man among many little men, and head of one little family among many little families. And yet, Noah possessed the desire and willingness to follow God’s instructions. Noah, by faith, having been warned by God of things not yet seen, was moved with fear or reverence for God, to the point that he prepared an ark to the saving of his entire household. By faith he was used to re-populate the earth for both the human race and animal kingdom.
Abraham was also one little man among many little men in his day and age. He was head of one little family among many little families. And yet, when called upon by God to go out to a place God had ordained him to go, and due to Abraham’s faith and obedience, he received a family inheritance unmatched and innumerable.
These are only two of thousands of biblical examples of little is much life lessons found within the bible, and only two among millions of individuals and families who have faithfully followed God’s Word and divine instructions based on a small seed-like faith and who became better people for it both here and hereafter. Therefore, little is always much when received or given in obedience to God’s Word and God’s divine leading of His Holy Spirit.
When Jesus heard the saddening news of John the Baptist’s evil and revengeful death by beheading, Jesus withdrew to a deserted place, no doubt to be alone. And yet, in the midst of much deserved grief brought on by the cruel and unusual death of His cousin John, Jesus had compassion on the multitudes who had gathered to hear Him teach a lesson later titled “Little Is Much In The Master’s Hands.”
And so, after an all-day healing service, the disciples make an astute observation. In essence the disciples asked Jesus to send the multitudes away because their need for food appeared so great and overwhelming. But what was Jesus’ response? “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” From a human perspective, and from the disciples’ perspective, and in reality, from our perspective, more times than we wish to admit, this is easier said than done.
A Few Final Words:
Would our response have been any different? “We have here five loaves and two fish.” John’s gospel reveals that Andrew added, “But what is this among so many?” In other words, how can so little become so much? How can our insufficiency be miraculously made so effectively used by God to do so much or to go so far? The ultimate answer is presented by Jesus as He commanded concerning the five loaves and two fish: by His stating, “Bring them here to Me.”
Yes, the lesson of a lifetime regarding our little becoming much hinges on our bringing what we have, our bringing what we are in Jesus, our bringing our little to Jesus in order for Him to bless, to break, and to use us to distribute as He deems necessary for whatever meets the need of that moment. And we need not to become anxious or worried even if we are asked to give away what we have, because Jesus will always see that there remains an excess. And the truth of the matter is, we can never out give Jesus!
In Christ Jesus, His grace is always sufficient, always available, always enough to sustain our every need. The question arises when we focus too much human attention to our wants, our wishes, and our fleshly earthly desires. According to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, “So they all ate and were filled [or satisfied].”
Abiding in Christ, continuing in Jesus, and enduring to the end, is vastly more rewarding than grabbing for all the gusto in life this world has to offer. Seeking first the kingdom of God and Christ’s righteousness will always cause us to confess our being filled and spiritually satisfied. Our learning the lesson of little is much when given to God, is a lesson well learned!
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the teaching of the feeding of five thousand plus. Thank You that we can learn this lesson of a lifetime and that it may be applied to our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. Help us to be desirous of learning every lesson of a lifetime You bring across our earthly journey to and with Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!