When Jesus directed the disciples to feed a crowd of 5,000 men, plus women and children, with nothing but a young boy’s five loaves of bread and two fish, they faced a seemingly impossible situation. As Andrew questioned, “What are they for so many?” (John 6:9). But the Twelve did as Jesus directed them: they sat the people down, separated them into groups, and then divided the loaves and fish. And divided. And divided. And before they knew it, a miracle had unfolded.
The five loaves and two fish managed to feed thousands—and not just with the tiniest servings of food but with such an abundance that “they all ate and were satisfied.” In fact, in a rather humorous turn of events, there were even leftovers. Just as God had done centuries earlier with the manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16), here the Shepherd of Israel proved His identity and provided for His people’s needs, both literally and symbolically.
It should be impossible for us to consider this story and not recognize that God takes unmanageable situations and unbelievably limited resources and multiplies them for the well-being of others and the glory of His name. And He can do this with our lives as well.
Perhaps, if you are the only Christian in your family, in your class, or at your job, you may wonder, like Andrew, “What am I among so many? What can I say? What can I do?” But here is the real question to ask: “Have I truly offered up my resources to God—my time, talents, energy, gifts, and finances?” They may not be much. But He can multiply them!
The missionary Gladys Aylward lived in London with no education and no savings. What she had, though, was a passionate longing to go to China to share the gospel. This small-statured lady, who had long, straight, black hair, thus began a journey by train and then by ocean liner, and eventually ended up in Shanghai. As she stood on the deck, looking out on the city, she saw all the small-statured Chinese people with their straight, black hair, and she suddenly realized that God had had a plan and purpose for her all along. He’d even established her DNA in such a way that she would be perfectly suited to become the “Little Woman” who would reach countless tiny children with the gospel—all because she offered up her life to God and He multiplied it for His glory.
As you look out on your day and your week, offer yourself to God. Your inability is His opportunity. Your weaknesses and your sense of dependence form the very basis upon which He shows Himself to be strong. With nothing but mere loaves and fish, He satisfied thousands. Be in no doubt that He can use you to do great things of eternal worth, if you will only ask Him.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
30The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii6 worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42And they all ate and were satisfied. 43And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
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