Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-14, John 6:22-40
Summary: When Jesus fed the five thousand, as recorded in all four gospels, He demonstrated what He taught about God being the Provider of our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Most of the crowd, however, wanted food, not faith.
The Lord Jesus never taught anything about the nature and character of God the Father that He Himself did not demonstrate or model before either His disciples or the people who followed and listened to Him. When we first read of this miracle, mentioned in all four gospels, we see the Divine power of Jesus on display along with His compassion, concern, orderliness, provision, and the further opening of the apostles’ spiritual sight and senses as to Who He was — God Incarnate among His people, fulfilling the prophecies spoken of by Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the other prophets of Scripture.
His feeding of the crowd is a display of what He had taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). He had taught the people not to worry about where they would get food and clothing along with their other needs, as God would provide for them as He does for the animals in the wild. In feeding the people, He not only filled their stomachs with natural food but also opened the door for them to understand that God feeds the soul as well with His Word.
Now, some people were spiritually sharp and saw Jesus as not only Provider but the Promised Savior of His people, while some saw this miracle as a means of obtaining a free meal every day and as part of a plan to seize Jesus, force Him to be King, and use His miraculous powers not only to keep Israel well-fed but also healed when they would fall wounded from the battle that would surely come with the oppressing power of Rome. They were certain that He would conquer and slay the hated soldiers of Caesar, driving them from the land of Israel once and for all, restoring the nation to an independent Kingdom ruled by this descendant of the great and wonderful David of old, or so they thought.
He put a stop to that plan in its tracks the day after the event, as recorded in John 6:22-40. The crowd wanted bread from Him, but when He offered them Himself as the Living Bread and to submit to Him as Lord, they dispersed to where He had no one except His disciples and a handful of authentic followers afterward.
What bothers me when I watch movies about the Lord Jesus, especially when the filmmakers show the scene of the feeding of the crowd, is that it always seems to resemble a mob scene where the food is almost thrown at the people, or they are scrambling for the fish and bread that Jesus miraculously provides. We see none of this in the Scriptures. Jesus organized the crowd, had some of the people help the apostles with distributing the food and collecting the leftovers after everyone had eaten, ensuring that the apostles would also get a chance to enjoy the best fish and bread they ever ate.
Nobody left hungry or dissatisfied over what they had received that day. It goes to show that Jesus is not only the Provider of our needs if we would but trust Him to do so, but He also sees to it that we get everything we need in order to be satisfied, full, and thankful for His bountifulness. He does give everyone the ability to work for their food and provisions as He pleases, but there are times when we have all fallen under some kind of hardship, and He was there to give us what we needed, oftentimes in an unexpected way. The Psalmist writes of God’s care for His people even when it looks like nothing is on the horizon (Psalm 37:25-26).
At one time, my wife and I were members of a friendly but liberal-leaning church in central Louisiana. I was in a Sunday School class where the teacher, upon reading of this account, said that it was not so much a miracle of Jesus, but a sense of guilt and shame that came over the crowd when they saw the child give his meager lunch over to the LORD to use to feed everyone, and they brought out their provisions and shared with everyone as a result of this act of selflessness. I do not see that in any way, shape, or form when I read this story. This was an attempt to downplay the obvious Divine work of the Lord Jesus and show a type of arrogance and self-imposed “wisdom” that tended to know better than the witnesses who were there and gave credibility to the event.
What liberal and progressive so-called “Christian” pastors and teachers now tend to do is question and bring into doubt the very Word of God and its supernatural origin and structure (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:19-21). Some people simply cannot bring themselves to believe or even consider that God is Who He says He is in the Bible and that what we have in our possession is the authentic record of His words, deeds, and plan of redemption that He put into place before the foundation of the world (John 1:1-4; Ephesians 1:3-14; Colossians 1:15-18).
People will flock to the latest guru, teacher, motivational speaker, philosopher, celebrity, or skeptic and swallow what they have to say without question or comment. But they will do everything in their power to downplay, discredit, blaspheme, and mock the very God who has done nothing but love and warn them of the wrath to come and has given the free offer of salvation made available through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and the ONLY way to God the Father (John 14:6).
Our own laziness and spiritual apathy have done nothing to alleviate the world’s prejudice and has turned a lot of people off of the message of the Gospel by our hypocrisy and lack of enthusiasm in telling others of the Good News of salvation in Christ. We tend to act as if it is nothing more than a mindset or code of ethics that are no different from what the world offers. If this describes your current condition before the LORD, now is the time to stop where you are and repent of your apathy and indifference and have Him renew your soul this day.
Other world religions, cults, and occult powers tell their followers that they have to do certain deeds or say the right words in order to appease the deities or leaders if they want a chance to get into their idea of heaven or paradise, nirvana, Shangri-La, Shambala, or wherever they think they go when they assume room temperature. Jesus says to everyone, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).
What do you have to do for Jesus to assist you or give you help, guidance, and supply your needs? Just come to Him freely, as you are. He will change you into the person you were meant to be for His glory and grace. Bring Him your wounded heart, your hungry body and soul, your pain, your grief, your sin burden, and lay all of it at His feet. Surrender your life to Him and confess that He is Lord (Romans 10:9-10). The hunger and thirst for righteousness and peace that many seek will never be filled, choosing instead to feast on the junk food and slop of the world, flesh, and the devil until the day of their last breath, when it will be too late.
According to the Scriptures, the redeemed of all time will be a part of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where there will be an abundance of not just the pure food of the LORD, but the abundant reunion we will have with our loved ones as well as the eternal fellowship we will have with the LORD. Jesus told the story of the Wedding Feast where the “high society” folks made up a bunch of lame excuses not to have dinner with the nobleman. So he told his servants to go everywhere and bring everyone to the feast, no matter who they were or where they came from, and enjoy the bounty that others refused (Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:15-24).
Jesus invites you to be fed, physically and spiritually. He cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7) and is waiting to receive you with open arms and a menu fit for a king. What more do you need to know? Dinner’s ready.
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