Feed Them (Matthew 14:16)
Matthew 14:16, “But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.”
Now we come to the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14). When evening came, the disciples went to Jesus and pointed out to Him they were in an isolated wilderness. So, they suggested that He send the crowds away to the villages for food (Matthew 4:15). The disciples were shocked at Jesus' response (Matthew 4:16).
The scene is set in Matthew 14:13-21. The multitudes were gathered together to see and hear from Jesus. He would perform a miracle that the people would never forget and never stop talking about. It was late in the afternoon when His disciples came to Him and said, "This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.” The disciples began to make excuses and told Jesus that it was too late in the day for them to go buy food for the multitude and they didn’t have enough money. But Jesus said, " give ye them to eat."
The disciples had already seen Jesus turn water into wine, heal scores of people, calm a storm by just speaking, and cast out demons, but they still didn’t understand who He was. Now, He wanted them to feed a crowd of 5,000 men, plus women and children (Matthew 14:21), which means the total could be as many as ten to twenty thousand. When God commands, God enables. Elisha multiplied bread for 100 men (II Kings 4:42-43). Christ multiplied bread for 5000 thousand men.
They came back to report that there were five loaves of bread and two fish. Then Jesus told the crowd to sit down. He took the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, gave thanks for the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, He gave the bread and fish to His disciples to place before the people. And the crowd ate until they could hold no more! There were about 5,000 men there for that meal, and afterwards there were leftover twelve baskets.
If we not careful, we miss some key words from Jesus. Often, we are so caught up in the meat of this miracle, and rightly so. Jesus used five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand men. Notice: Jesus could have served the people Himself, but He chose to use His disciples to serve and feed the people.
There are at least two lessons that could be applied from this miracle.
1. Use what you have got.
This miracle teaches that God can do wonders with our "five loaves and two fish". He had no idea what the Lord would do with his lunch. Like the little boy, we should be willing to give all we have to Jesus. He was not forced to give anything, but he willingly gave his all to the Lord. Just as this boy gave his whole lunch to the Lord, we can be sure that God will continue to meet our needs as we work with Him in meeting the needs of others! Anytime we are given an opportunity to be used of the Lord. We are to trust Him and the gifts He has given to us. We are reminded of how the Lord can take just a little and make a lot out of it. Little is much when God is in it.
2. Give what you have.
Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed more than five thousand people. It turned out to be more than enough to meet the need. What He was originally given seemed insufficient, but in His hands, it became more than enough. We often feel that our contribution to Jesus is small or insignificant, but He can use and multiply whatever we give Him, whether it is talent, time, or treasure. It is when we give them to Jesus that our resources are multiplied. God gives in abundance. He takes whatever we can offer Him in time, ability, or resources and multiplies its effectiveness beyond our wildest expectations. If you take the first step in making yourself available to God, He will show you how greatly you can be used to advance the work of His Kingdom.
The disciples could not see beyond the physical world. This is understandable, for the only life they had really known was life lived on the human plane. They had always looked only at what they had, only at what man could do with what little he had. They had not yet seen what God could do with human resources yielded to Him. Note that the disciples were being awakened to the need and moved by Christ. They were now willing to offer and share what they had. Notice: Being aware and being moved to share will not get the job done. God is needed! We have to take our resources and turn them over to God. The command of Christ is to every man: "give." We are to take what resources we have and give to meet the desperate needs of the multitude. We all have the duty and responsibility to give whatever we have, no matter how little or how small.
He is using these same words today. Whether you are in Carrabelle, Colorado, or Columbia, you have exactly the same assignment in the kingdom of God. To feed His sheep. Literally and spiritually. Everyday there are multitudes without food, provisions, recourses. We might be puzzled like the disciples were. We don’t have enough. What are we to do to minister to them? We, like the disciples, can take it to the Lord (Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever) and ask Him how He may use us to “feed them”. With the Lord, there is never a church, ministry, or servant that ever lacks the recourses. He already knows what we need. He will bless the work and see it accomplished.
Prayer: Lord, I’m truly thankful to be involved in Your work and to spread and share the same Gospel that saved me. As Jesus used the fish and bread to feed the five thousand, use the gifts You’ve given me to feed the souls of others You allow me to encounter.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship with Christ.