I looked into sweet faces as they seemed to hang on every word, so eager to know Truth. Teaching a well-known story of Jesus feeding the 5000, one that I’d heard and read for so many years, suddenly became powerful again. In my heart. In my soul.
I grew up knowing of the miracles of Jesus. Flannel board stories had come to life in my heart at a very early age. Yet sometimes, if we're not careful, such popular stories we've heard for so long can almost lose part of their significance in being so common. We hear the words but don’t really hear them anymore. Maybe because we've heard it so much before.
But I was again reminded, along with these little 3rd graders, of just how amazing He is. And how He's able to take whatever we offer, however small it seems, and do the mighty through it all.
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14:14-21
5 things that can encourage us still today, when the problems we're facing seem too big:
- Jesus moves with compassion. Jesus performed this miracle on the heels of facing great grief. He had just lost his beloved cousin and friend John the Baptist who had been killed at the order of Herod. Yet Matt. 14:14 says he had compassion on the people who had followed him, he had such great love, even in the midst of facing his own loss. He knew his time on earth was short, he pressed forward to do all that God had called him to do, even when it seemed difficult. And He’s still the same today. He knows the pain and struggles we face. He understands. He’s never too busy, or too distant to care. He knows the grief we feel today, for He felt it too. His Word says “He is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Ps. 34:18
- Jesus is bigger than any problem we face. When his disciples came to him with the problem, he instructed them to "give them something to eat," v.16. In other words, he encouraged them to look for a solution, to take their eyes off the pressing problem and put them on the Answer. Jesus is still the Answer, to every problem we face today. In a world filled with darkness and fear, He is the only solution for the troubles that surround. And He sends us out, in His power and His Spirit, He instructs us today to be salt and light, to “give them something,” the very Bread of Life, who can make an eternal difference in their souls. This Truth remains, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
- Jesus asks us to bring Him all we have. He asked the disciples to give him what they had, v.18. The little boy whose very smart mom had packed his lunch that day, gave all he had, 5 loaves and 2 fish. Offered it all up, though it seemed so meager. The disciples must have thought Jesus was crazy to even ask for it. Among 5000+ people, this would hardly feed even one family. But they still obeyed, they still brought it all to him. And this single obedient act ushered the way for Jesus to perform that amazing miracle story still talked about today. This truth remains, obedience paves the way for great things to happen. He desires our hearts to be fully yielded to Him, and great miracles can occur as a result. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matt. 22:37
- Jesus can bring blessing and life from what is broken. Jesus, worker of miracles, loving Provider, took what they gave and offered it before God. He gave thanks, blessed it, and broke it, v. 19. Such powerful words, because if we've walked through broken times, we know that however hard it is at the time, there's also great blessing and power that can come through it. He offers our lives, broken pieces and all, and brings us before the Father. That's the grace and favor that He alone can bring into our lives in the midst of dark places. Fast forward some months, there was another time Jesus gave thanks before the Father and broke bread with his disciples, it was the Last Supper. And it was the very picture of what He was willing to endure on our behalf - the brokenness of the cross, and the blessing and power of the Resurrection. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Matt. 26:26
- Jesus multiplies what we give to Him. And there was enough to feed all, which in reality was probably more like 10,000 - 15,000 people when you count all of the women and children too. It even says they were all "satisfied," full, content. That's a lot of mouths to feed on such a small offering of food. But with God, it was enough, it was more than enough. And surely in our lives, when we feel inadequate or what we have to offer seems so small, through Christ, it is enough. He makes it more than enough, v. 20. He is able to multiply our efforts, our gifts, our offerings, and bring complete satisfaction to the deepest places of our souls. So interesting to note that there were 12 baskets left over. And there were 12 disciples too, who quite possibly each picked up one of those baskets, and carried it back with amazement and wonder at this miracle He had done. His hope is this, “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Eph. 3:20
Praying today that no matter where we are in life right now, He would take what we offer up to Him, all of our brokenness and pain, all of our loss and short supply, all of our inadequacies and doubt, and that He would breathe His blessing and favor over it, multiplying greatly all that we offer.
He is Able.
To make it more than enough.
And to bring life and blessing to all those around us.
Our Lord of miracles is more than Able.
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at http://twitter.com/debbmcdaniel and http://www.debbiemcdaniel.com.