Filled to Overflowing :: By Sean Gooding

Matthew 15: 32-39 (continued)

“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.’ Then His disciples said to Him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?’

Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven, and a few little fish.’ So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.”

Last time we ended with the reminder that the multitudes of the world still need the Lord.  They still need His healing touch in every way.  They need physical, emotional and spiritual healing from this world.  People look for help in all kinds of things; they read books, join groups, take self-help courses, watch Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz or Oprah just looking for the answer.  The answer is Jesus.  He is the One they are looking for.  He alone can bring the peace and acceptance that they need.  It is our job to make sure that they meet Him somehow, some way.

Today we will look at a lesser-known account of Jesus feeding a multitude of people. We all know of the ‘Feeding of the 5000,’ and I will confess that, as I grew up even in Sunday School, there was very little talk of this account.  But it is an important account or God would not have placed it in the scriptures for us to consider.  The accounts seem somewhat similar, of course, but there are some subtle differences.  It is these differences that will help us today to grow in the knowledge and in practical trust in Jesus.  Let us be honest; this is what it is all about: can I trust Jesus with my basic needs today?

Committed Followers, verse 32

These people had followed Jesus all over the countryside for about three days. These men, women and children had either run out of food or did not bring any food with them for the journey.  They simply began to follow Jesus.  He was concerned for their well-being and did not want them to faint on the way home.  Jesus shows us that our Heavenly Father is truly concerned about our well-being and longs to provide for us so that we do not faint in the journey of following Him.

Jesus, of course, made us aware of God’s care for us in chapter 6: 25-26: “Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

God feeds and cares for His creation.  He feeds and cares for you and me.  Let us take in consideration that it was not that long ago that Jesus had triumphantly fed more than 5000 men plus women and children in a similar situation.  We find ourselves in a very familiar situation. In fact, it was just a chapter ago that we find the account of the feeding of the 5000. Sadly, the apostles asked the same questions of Jesus: “Where can we find enough bread in the wilderness?” (verse 33).
Less we become self righteous, how many of us do the same thing?  God has provided for us time and time again, and we find ourselves wondering if He will do it again. The nation of Israel in the wilderness journey constantly doubted God.  Their doubts tested God and wearied Moses as their leader. (See Exodus 15-16).

Here is the promise from God as seen in Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

This is a promise from God. If you are a follower of Christ, God will supply your needs. These people that followed Jesus were waiting for His supply. They had seen His power and His glory day after day; they simply kept following Him. They trusted Him. Sadly, too many of us don’t trust Him.  We talk the talk, but when the pressure comes we get these nagging doubts that He will not come through.  We start to see God through human eyes and not from the point of view of His eternal promises, which cannot fail.  If God can lie – if He could break a promise, and if He could forsake us – then we would truly have no hope.  Follow Jesus and He will supply all of your needs.  He simply must.

Seven Large Baskets, verse 37

In the account of the feeding of the 5000, the disciples collected 12 baskets of remaining food.  These baskets referred to what one would take for a daily journey.  Let us first note that in today’s lesson when these people ate, the Bible says that they ‘were filled.’ The word used for ‘filled’ is actually the word used for ‘fattening cows.’ God provides all that we need to the full.  But not only that, there are seven large baskets filled with the leftovers.  Not only did God provide enough to fatten them, He actually provided more than was needed.  At the end they had more than what they started with, and they were all filled.

One of the things I continue to see in the Bible as I read through it, is that God loves to give His people ‘prosperity.’ Now let’s not get off on a tangent and begin to think like the world.  God’s idea of prosperity is that we have our essentials in bulk and to the excess.  Food, family and fellowship are some of the great prosperity that Jesus brings to us.  If we took an HONEST account of all that Jesus has done, we will see that He has truly blessed us.  He provided both physical and spiritual food for us. He gives us a family to love and to love us, and He has provided a place for fellowship.

Most of the people in this account and the many we have surveyed in the book of Matthew were poor.  They were still poor by the world’s standards when Jesus was done blessing them.  But they had seen God; and they were never the same. And they were never poor again, by God’s standards. They had seen the power of God firsthand, and they simply followed Him everywhere.

Jesus Sent Them Home Full, verse 39

In verse 32 we see that Jesus has compassion on the people that followed Him.  He loved them and saw their needs from all angles.  We all come to Jesus to have our needs met.  I came as a 14-year-old young man to have my spiritual needs met. I needed a Savior, and Jesus saved me.  I was born again.  Now I come to Him as a family man with a wife and children to care for, and simply rely on Him.  He never fails me.  Do I doubt Him at times?  Sadly, yes, I do.

But if I am to give good and honest testimony, I can truly say that my life is full.  I have a wife that loves me, a church that lets me serve them and allows me to fulfill my calling.  I have good children who are learning about the Lord; they are going through the same struggles that I went through, learning to put God first.  I have a three-year-old that lights up my world.  My mom, though ill, is still alive. My dad is a godly man who loves the Lord, loves me and loves my family.  God blessed me with godly in-laws who pray for me and welcomed me into their family.  I have godly friends who love the Lord and love us as a family.

On and on I can go – and if you were to be honest – so could you.  Our lives are full in Jesus.  We came to Jesus empty and broken; and now we are filled, and that beyond measure.

Testify and give God the glory.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Sean Gooding, Pastor Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church