Feeding the Five Thousand
“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
What kept Jesus’s miracles from merely being magic tricks was that they served purposes and weren’t just displays of His power. His feeding of thousands with only five loaves of bread and two fish is a good example of this. While we do see God’s power through Christ in this feeding, we also see a demonstration of how we are to meet people’s needs, whatever the situation.
Most people wouldn’t blame the disciples for telling Jesus to send the crowds away. After all, He didn’t ask for thousands of people to come to him while he was mourning His cousin in solitude. Jesus owed them nothing. As the disciples pointed out, the crowd could go out and take care of their own needs. It’s unlikely anyone would have starved if Jesus didn’t feed them. So if He had no obligation to feed them and they didn’t need Him to do so, why did Jesus bother? Because they were there, and they were hungry.
Jesus demonstrates the responsibility of meeting the needs of those around us, regardless of if we think they deserve it, whether or not we personally feel like it, and despite our fears of not having enough for ourselves. And while we may not be capable of a miracle on the same level as feeding more than 5,000 people with so little, God can take what we offer and make it enough. Jesus shows us that we don’t have to start with a lot to provide what’s needed.
As we move into Thanksgiving and meditate on what we’re grateful for, maybe we can go beyond thanking God for what we have for ourselves, and show gratitude for the way He gives us enough to share, feeding and meeting other needs of our siblings in Christ. Taking care of those we’d rather send away often feels like a burden, but know that God equips us to do so and makes what we offer enough.
Holy God, thank you so much for taking what little we have to offer and making it enough to bless those around us. Remind us that our time, talents, and treasures aren’t ours to keep, and that we’re called to share and give based on others’ needs, not our own selfish wants. Amen.
Written by Preston Thiemann
Preston Thiemann and his wife, Rachel, live here in Lincoln. He is the Web Content Coordinator for the ASEM Marketing team at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he’s worked since April 2015. At Sheridan, he also plays guitar on the Praise Band and is active in Sheridan’s 20s & 30s ministry, Second Quarter. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with friends.