Our God is an awesome God. His love and his might are boundless, and His wisdom is complete and perfect. God can do what He wants, and none can bind Him. The Word of God, made flesh in the person Jesus, provides us with all the wisdom needed to live godly lives, and to serve the living God. The way to be saved is found in Scripture in the person of Jesus Christ. He truly is the way, the truth, and the light. Why am I beginning with these basics? This story is one of two similar events recorded in Scripture. "The Feeding of the Five Thousand" is one of those true stories that is found in all four Gospels.
John's Gospel is so different from the others in that he wrote his Gospel with the others in hand, and left out things that were not essential so as not to copy them. What we have at first glance is an important and essential event in the life of Jesus. The Gospel of John gives a much fuller context of this miracle. We know that, at two separate times in His ministry, Jesus sat down with His disciples, took a small offering of food, and expanded it to fill the needs of thousands. Let me read to you from John 6:26-27;
"I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
So then, we have to ask ourselves, "What was God teaching us by including this miracle in Scripture?" And we have to ask ourselves what we can learn about who He is, and how to apply the message in our lives.
Let's begin with the circumstances surrounding the events. Jesus is walking all over Judea and performing miracles. He is clashing with the authorities because He isn't following the manmade rules they added on top of Scripture. These authorities have been substituting their own rules over the Word of God. and the people are heavily burdened. We read about Jesus and the apostles in verses 10-11:
"....Then he took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed Him."
People were literally chasing Jesus around like a rock star. These people had nothing to offer Him, so what did Jesus do? How does God treat us when we have nothing to offer? We continue in verse 11:
"He welcomed them and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing."
He considered their neediness as an opportunity for ministry. The people brought Him their empty hands, their sickness and their ignorance, and He gave healing and wisdom. Understand that, when we first come to Christ, we don't have anything to offer Him. We cannot buy salvation. The price has already been paid. Jesus on the Cross was the price.
Our own lives weren't worth enough to pay the price. We each have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, and only He could buy us back from death.
You've heard the phrase, "God helps those who help themselves." In the world around us, we see people elevated because of their skill and talent, beauty and riches. We should elevate excellence, you might say. But let me tell you something. Athletes who are good at their sport are just people who are good at their job. If they are heroes, it's not because of their job. It's because of what they do off the field. Most people who work sacrifice for their job in some way or another. It doesn't make them special.
That phrase, "God helps those who help themselves," is not found in Scripture. The concept, when taken at face value, is utterly alien to the character of God. God loves the needy. Anyone who comes to Him sincerely humble in heart is one of His favorites. Beggars are special treasures of God. People dying in hospitals, prayng to be visited by their loved ones, they are beloved by God. God helps those that ask for help-the needy, in the biblical equivalent. Sometimes God helps us by giving us the means, the strength to earn our own livelihood.
Yet God's goodness isn't limited to helping us just with what we ask. Consider the nature of this miracle in our passage. The people came to Jesus to learn and to be healed. They chased Him around until they caught Him, and He welcomed them. Nowhere here does it mention that they asked Jesus to feed them. The apostles told Jesus that the people were hungry, and I doubt it was news to Jesus. So what did Jesus do about the ubspoken need of these people. Consider the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 6:33:
"But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
God provides the needs of His people as they walk in obedience to Him. Most of you are familiar with the passage about Jesus being tempted by satan in the wilderness. The devil gave Him three challenges. Each one of them was designed to steer Jesus away from the Cross to keep Him from fulfilling His mission. Jesus fed thousands on two separate occasions, but because of our vanity, our short-sightedness, our lack of faith, our human weakness, if Jesus had continued feeding the people for the sake of their stomachs, they would have loved the saving, not the Savior.
Consider something. At one point, Jesus turned humble water into celebratory wine. Jesus asked the men at the wedding to provide something common, and He provided something extraordinary. The men provided obedience through the water, and Jesus provided cause for everlasting celebration. In our passage, a boy contributes a small meal of little value, and turns a small contribution into a large meal. Verse 17 tells us that "they all ate and were satisfied." Jesus didn't do anything halfway. I'm guessing this meal was significantly more satisfying than any other food would be. God satisfies our desires with good things.
The food from Christ represents God's provision. Our physical needs are met as we serve Him. How often do you lose sight of God because you are focused on earthly things. It can be especially problematic when we stop seeing the things He has done for us. We must be obedient. God uses the fish and bread we bring to the table. He tastes it and makes it better.
God does not need us. We do not earn God's mercy. He has mercy on us because of our obedience. His gift come from Him, not from our own efforts. Our faith is like that. God said to believe and we will be saved. God sent His Son to die on the cross for us, The essentials of our Christian belief are: believe in the person of Jesus Christ, God as He truly is, made flesh; and His work on the Cross; and that He raised from the dead, and we will be saved. Our faith is an active and fruitful relationship with God. Lets walk in daily fellowship with the Almighty God.