Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala. (Matthew 15:32-39)
He Has The Power To Provide
The feeding of the five thousand is one of the more popular stories in the ministry of Jesus. Not as well remembered is the occasion Jesus fed four thousand men, not counting the women and children. This story is like the feeding of the five thousand but with a few differences. The multitudes have been with Jesus three days without anything to eat. There were seven loaves of bread and a few fish to feed such a large multitude. After blessing the food, the disciples of Jesus dispersed the few loaves and fishes to the crowd and had seven large baskets full of the fragments left when everyone had been filled. How many times Jesus fed multitudes of people is unknown seeing that John reminds us there are many miracles that are not recorded. There are some important lessons to glean from these miracles important to our relationship with the Lord.
Jesus did not feed the people until the third day. It is imperative to see the mission of Jesus was not to fill the stomachs of the people but the hearts. After three days, the food supply was exhausted and there was a need to find food. He did not feed them because they were rioting over the lack of food. Great multitudes had come to Jesus to be healed witnessing the power of God and it was not until the third day the Lord considered feeding them. It was time for them to leave and the compassion of Jesus was to feed the multitude before He left. Seven loaves of bread and a few small fish were not enough to feed a large crowd much less a crowd of four thousand. The feeding of the five thousand would have taught the disciples to trust in the power of Jesus as He again fills the mouths of the multitudes with a scarce source of food.
God will always provide for the needs of man but in His own time. We often grumble against the plan of God because it does not suit our needs. He has the power to fill all our needs from small things. Considering there were four thousand men without counting the women and children would swell the number upwards to possibly six, seven or eight thousand people. Seven loaves of bread and a few small fish will hardly feed a family of six. The Lord fed four thousand plus and had so much left over. The blessings of God will fill all our needs and give us more than we had in the beginning. Again, the work of the Lord is not to fill the flesh but the spirit of man. Jesus wants us to fill our lives with the manna of His word. Like the feeding of the four thousand, the more we devour the word of God the more there is to feast upon. The hunger of the flesh will be temporary but the hungering for the truth will always fill us with the righteousness of the Lord.
There were many people whom Jesus healed and fed from His hands of compassion. The sad part of the multitudes is they could see His miracles and feel His power and enjoy the blessings of the hand of healing but the people would not heed the words of the Lord. His mission was not to come and feed the poor of the world. The work of God is to heal the hearts of men. Feeding the four thousand was temporary. Feeding on the truth of God would last an eternity. So much of religion today is focused on the temporary failing to take into consideration the claims of Jesus. The multitudes want the miracles of Jesus to give them health, wealth and physical prosperity all the while ignoring the words of Jesus. Remember the same people that Jesus fed will turn against Him and crucify Him. He stopped feeding their stomachs and they wanted more. When a man tries to come to God demanding bread, He will be refused. The words of the Lord are eternal life – not bread and fish.
In a day of tranquilizers, we are likely to make an aspirin pill of religion. The word of God is not a lullaby to put us to sleep but a reveille to wake us up. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)