3 Lessons from a Lunch and a Prayer
“13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14:13-21 NIV
When Jesus turned the five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the 5,000, it can be easily estimated that there were actually 15,000 to 20,000 people present because the text makes clear that the 5,000 were counting only the men in the group!
Jesus shows me that I need begin to use whatever I have wisely.
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.” Matthew 14:17 NIV
It would have been easy for Jesus (and the disciples) to complain about what they lacked. We don’t have enough food for the crowd. We don’t have enough money to feed everyone. Even if we had enough food, there aren’t enough people to serve these 20,000 hungry people! C’mon Jesus, surely more than this one boy has food to share! When one looks around, it is not hard at all to identify how things would be better if we had added resources.
It is VERY easy to fall into this trap when serving in the ministry too. We don’t have enough lights, our sound system is old, our facilities aren’t modern, and we don’t have the volunteers for Sunday School. Our praise and worship team lacks skill and there’s not enough money to buy all the things we need! The lesson from Jesus here is that rather than focusing on what I don’t have, I ought to put my energy in using wisely what I do have.
Next, Jesus teaches me that I need to have a greater trust in His resources than mine.
“18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” Matthew 14:18-19 NIV
Jesus trusted His Father to provide. My kids trust their father to provide. When I was a kid, I trusted my father to provide. Why then is it so hard now for me to trust my Heavenly Father to provide when I don’t think the resources are there? Maybe it is because I want to control things myself. Maybe it is because I live my life according to what I can see, more than by whom I believe in. When Jesus raised His hands and blessed the food, He shows me that His blessings are not based on what resources I have available to me, but rather on what God does in and through what I already have.
Lastly, Jesus shows me that I must not waste what He provides.
“20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Matthew 14:20 NIV
It is interesting that Jesus had the disciples pick up the twelve basketfuls of broken pieces left over. This shows that Jesus did not want to waste what God had provided. Sadly, there are many believers who waste away the resources that Jesus gives. It is also interesting to find that though the 5,000 ate and were satisfied, there is no further record of them following Jesus beyond that point. Although scripture is clear that He healed their sick, it is not clear if the sick followed Him. It looks like they came to Jesus for help, and after they received it, they did nothing for and with Him. They were fans of Jesus, and not followers. They were convinced that He could do great things, but they weren’t committed to following Him. To truly grow with Jesus means to not waste what He provides. I must not waste the testimonies He gives. I must not waste the miracles He has performed. I must not waste the blessings or strength that He has given.
Lord Jesus, You are able and more than willing to do so much more than I have ever dreamt or thought of in my life. Lord I long to be used by You in great ways. Lead me in growing in my faithfulness to what You give me. Amen.