This Devotional message is part of the Clayton Church Value-Based Discipleship series, which was launched on Sunday 23 July 2017.
Passage: Matthew 14:13-21
When Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there privately in a boat to a solitary place. But when the crowds heard of it, they followed Him on foot from the towns. When He went ashore and saw a great throng of people, He had compassion for them and cured their sick. When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said,
This is a remote and barren place, and the day is now over; send the throngs away into the villages to buy food for themselves.
They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.
They said to Him,
We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.
Bring them here to Me.
Then He ordered the crowds to recline on the grass; and He took the five loaves and the two fish, and, looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and blessed and broke the loaves and handed the pieces to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about 5,000 men, not including women and children.
The stand-out verse from this famous passage of Jesus’ miraculous multiplication sign is verse 16 where Jesus teaches his disciples that they would be the ones to feed the crowds, instead of turning them away. Whilst we see the limitations from our human perspective, God/Jesus makes the impossible possible.
Retelling the story for someone else (you – my audience):
In reaction to the news that his cousin John the Baptist had been beheaded (earlier part of Matthew 14), Jesus withdrew to give himself some space. However, the crowds learnt that Jesus had withdrawn and still could not get enough teaching from him. When he returned from the solitude of the boat to the shore, his heart filled with compassion and he resumed his ministry of healing the sick. As the evening approached, the disciples started to think the day was over and voiced their concern that the people should move on and fend for themselves. However, Jesus instead continued in his heart and attitude of compassion for them such that he told the disciples to feed the masses themselves, instead. The disciples protested and raised the issue that their food supply was severely limited – to two loaves of bread, and five fish. Jesus asked that the little that they had would be brought before him.
Getting the crowds to ready themselves to receive food, Jesus took the food and blessed it. Giving thanks to God the Father, it broke the bread and fish and distributed it to the disciples. The disciples in turn distributed the food to the crowd. After everyone had eaten their fill, surplus food was collected into twelve whole containers! The crowd was estimated to be about 5000 men, but women and children would have increased that number also, given they also partook in the miraculous feeding.
What I Discovered
Insights revealed by this passage include:
- Jesus needed time to himself, to mourn and grieve the loss of John the Baptist – Jesus also suffered and had very human emotions.
- Jesus had compassion and was re-energised by the crows of faithful followers who were eager to continue receiving and being in His presence – Jesus is an extrovert / he draws energy from the crowds.
- Jesus, as God, saw what was possible while the disciples, in their human mindset, saw the limitations of their situation in feeding so many people.
- The disciples’ attitudes immediately after Jesus commands them to feed the crowds is unknown, but we do know that no matter what they thought, they still marshalled the crowds and were able to find some food – five loaves and two fish.
- Jesus blessed their obedience, giving praise and glory to God the Father in heaven.
- Everyone received what they needed in terms of food, to overflowing, such is the abundance that God showers on his people.
I will trust that God can provide all my needs to overflowing. I will obey his commandment to feed his sheep. This last obedience step was a literal commandment that Jesus once issued to me in person, when I had my heaven on earth encounter with God.