But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” – Vs 16 (NASB)
It’s been a long day. It started with news that John the Baptist had been beheaded. This had hit Jesus hard, causing Him to withdraw in a boat to a secluded place by Himself (Vs 13). But Jesus’ solitude didn’t last long. It never did. There were always the crowds. And this day was no different. So after a long day, the disciples found themselves surrounded again by thousands of men, women, and children, all there to get a glimpse of Jesus, or to receive healing from Him. The location was remote and when it started getting late, the disciples recommended to Jesus that He call it a day and send the crowds away so they could go into the nearby villages and find food to eat. Many of these people were miles from their own homes, having traveled long distances in order to see Jesus. The disciples were weary and probably tired of all the crowds, and who could blame them. So when they told Jesus that He ought to send the crowds away they were more than a little surprised at His response. “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”
What?! You have got to be kidding Jesus. Where are we supposed to find enough food to feed this many people. There are at least 5,000 men and that doesn’t include all the women and kids. We’re talking well over 10,000 people here. And you want us to give them something to eat?
The disciples were stunned. A few of them were probably even put out at the audacity of this request – or command. Jesus was telling them to do the impossible. And they proved it by listing their meager supplies on hand: Five loaves and two fishes. That wasn’t even enough to feed 12 hungry disciples, let alone a crowd like this. The facts were clear. There were too many people and not enough resources. Case closed. Or so they thought.
Jesus doesn’t want to hear their excuses. But He does want their fishes and loaves. He takes what they’ve got and then orders the disciples to seat the crowd on the grass. Can you imagine what is going through the disciples’ minds? They’re probably thinking they’re going to have a riot on their hands when Jesus starts handing out little bitty pieces of fish and bread to these people. The people aren’t going to stand for this. They’re going to get upset. But as they do crowd control, Jesus calmly takes their five loaves and two fish and looking up into heaven, He blesses it. Then He begins dividing up the food and handing it to the disciples, who in turn give it to the people. And He keeps breaking and dividing, and the disciples keep handing it out. Over and over again. Until every single person in the crowd has eaten their fill. Matthew recalls that “they all ate and were satisfied” (Vs 20). Slowly, calmly, unspectacularly, Jesus had just performed one of His greatest miracles. He had fed a huge crowd of people with just a handful of loaves and fishes. And when the disciples did clean-up duty they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. One basket for each of them.
Matthew records no statement by Jesus condemning the disciples’ lack of faith. In fact, Jesus seems to say nothing. I think the twelves baskets were probably statement enough for the disciples. They started out with little and walked away with an abundance. Jesus had presented them with an impossible situation. He had made an unrealistic request. All the facts pointed to failure. Their resources were too small. They lacked what was necessary to do what Jesus was demanding of them. Or did they? Jesus used the very resources they had to do what He did. He simply multiplied what they had. He blessed what they had. He took their lack and made it more than sufficient. And isn’t that what He wants to do in your life and my life? Take what little we have and bless it and multiply it? He isn’t concerned about the quantity of our strength, the amount of our wisdom, the abundance of our ability. He just wants us to bring it to Him and let Him use it as He sees fit. We have to admit our lack. We have to confess that we don’t have enough, but then trust that this is NOT a problem for Him. He’ll use it. And we’ll find that there was really was more than enough after all. Because in His hands our meager resources become more than sufficient for the need.
I love this story because it is a reminder of what my life is to be like every single day. I face situations each day that require more of me than I have to give. They demand of me more than I can deliver. But Jesus simply says, “Bring to Me what you have. Give me what you’ve got.” And when I obediently let Him have it, He blesses it, multiplies it, and works miracles with it. It reminds me of the old song that says, “Little is much when God is in it.” Little is much. That is to be the story of my life as I live it in obedience to Jesus Christ.
Father, little really is much when You are in it. Your power makes my weakness a non-factor. Your ability to multiply even my meager abilities and resources make anything possible. I have no excuse for not serving, sharing, giving, or going in Your name. Jesus just asks that I bring to Him what little I have and let Him use it. Thank You for using me in spite of me. Thank You for being willing to take what I have and use it to accomplish Your kingdom work here on this earth. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men