Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." John 6:10-12
The feeding of the 5,000 is one of the most well-known events in the New Testament. Feeding a great number from such a small portion, with leftovers, grabs our attention. It reminded those in the crowd that day of the time in Israel's history when God provided manna. Now, they thought, another had come to provide their daily food, and the people were ready to crown Him their king. But Jesus had different reasons for the miracle. Let me offer two fresh observations from this account.
- When Jesus asked Philip where they could buy food for such a large crowd, it was not a question but a test. Jesus "already had in mind what he was going to do" (v. 6). He still does. And He still tests us, not to trick us but to show us what's in our hearts. Jesus' questions drill down on our faith: "Will you follow Me?" "Will you look to Me or keep the focus on your impossible circumstances?"
- I am always impressed by the young boy's actions in this story (v. 9). He thought ahead, or at least his mother did. He packed a lunch. He was as hungry as everybody else. Yet he gave up all he had. His willingness to sacrifice a little gave Jesus the resources to satisfy many. What a great reminder! Jesus can take my gifts (spiritual and monetary) and make them grow. Jesus does big things with small gifts and willing hearts.
The two questions we have to ask ourselves are these: Can we trust Jesus even when the circumstances seem impossible? Will we give to Him all we have so that He can do big things in our lives? When you demonstrate your willingness to trust Him and not hold back ... get ready ... He is going to do some great things in your life!
Father, there are times I feel that what I have is so small. There are times I feel paralyzed by my problems. Remind me often that You are more than capable of taking the little I have to accomplish big things. Help me trust You with all I am and all I have. In Jesus' name. Amen.