The Feeding of the Five Thousand is the only one of the great nature miracles that is recorded in all four Gospels. The Lord had spent the whole day teaching the crowds and with compassion, healing the sick. The disciples, as evening approached, were tired and hungry after a long day; they display a rather different pragmatic solution. They say to our Lord, ”….send them away!” The large assembly had become an inconvenience and an intrusion into their cosy circle of fellowship and did not want to share Christ or their food with all these people. We may show the same resentment to those who impinge on our cosy arrangements. We too may ask ourselves why bother with these outsiders, what can we do for them ? We are not equipped to provide for their needs!
This combination of self interest and self justification is met with a strong response from our Lord:
”They need not go away-you give them something to eat!”
They,(the crowds) do not have to go- they need sustenance. You do something about it!
The poor, the hungry, the lonely, the oppressed, the sad, the sick, the bereaved need someone to care for them, to love them, to listen to them, to forgive them, to heal them and to understand their needs and to feed them. He who had ministered to their spiritual needs and fed their spiritual hunger was not going to send them away empty.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
Their physical needs were just as important. Christ cares for the whole person -body and soul.
The command to feed the crowd,” You feed them!” is met with incredulity. How are we going to feed all these people, “we have only five loaves and two fish” ( we might add-and they are for us!) We simply cannot interpret this miracle as a demand to give people spiritual food- it is not possible to preach to an empty stomach.
Christ asks the disciples to bring what little food that they had for Him to bless and multiply. It is not that the disciples alone have to do everything but to offer up what they have to Christ and then He does the rest. It is the same for us, even if we have only a grain of mustard seed and plant it, it will become great. God always multiplies what we offer. When we offer nothing we will receive nothing.
There is the story of the four beggars gathering one evening who were bemoaning the meagre amounts of food they had received that day.
The first said, “I begged until sunset and all I received was a scrap of meat.”
The second said, “ I didn’t get anything but I managed to pick up a few discarded vegetables from the market place.”
The third said,” A merchant threw me a handful of herbs”
The fourth said,” I have a handful of beans, that’s all.”
One of them suggested that they put all the contents into a boiling pot and make a savoury stew.
They all agreed that this was a splendid idea. The first thought to himself “I’ll just pretend to put the meat into the pot. The others wont know the difference and I’ll eat it later.” The same idea occurred to the second, third and fourth beggars. In turn they all pretended to put their portions into the pot- it was dark so that the others didn’t notice. After a time one of them said “ It must be ready now”. So each took a bowlful of hot water from the pot in absolute silence learning the stark truth that selfishness is tasteless and barren.
I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
In the Lord shall my soul be praised; let the meek hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my tribulations.
Come unto Him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his tribulations.
The angel of the Lord will encamp round about them that fear Him, and will deliver them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that hopeth in Him.
O fear the Lord, all ye His saints; for there is no want to them that fear Him.
Rich men have turned poor and gone hungry; but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good thing.
The early Church practised great charity and we should do no less
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Divine equations have a simple synergy and formidable formula: Us plus God equals Miracles
God’s arithmatic is very generous: 5+2 = 5000 +12