This Week's Article
God’s Provisions and You
By Colly Caldwell
“Then Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:10-11).
I love the Gospel stories that speak of Jesus feeding the thousands of followers with minimum provisions. There are great lessons in each of them. Feeding five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus (other than his resurrection) recorded in all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:1-14). On another occasion, he fed four thousand at one time (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-10).
On the occasion where he fed five thousand men, the disciples were apparently hoping for some rest from the busy activity Jesus was involving them in. So Jesus took them by boat eastward across the northern part of the Sea of Galilee to a “deserted place” (little inhabited) belonging to Bethsaida. But the people pursued Him and he spent a day receiving them. Asthe day waned, the apostles called upon Jesus to send the people away to the surrounding towns so they could find food and lodging. But Jesus issued a most incredible request of them. “You give them something to eat.” Philip responded, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” Andrew said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish.” In other words: we don’t have the food or the money to feed them.
Of course, they didn’t have provisions to feed that kind of crowd. I suspect if that happened in one of the Lord’s churches today where we had one or two hundred people present, we would not be ready to feed them all, much less if we had five hundred. Well, that just emphasizes the great miracle Jesus did in taking five barley loaves and two small fish and providing the needed meal for the day. And to top it off, they took up twelve baskets full of the left-overs. How amazing!
There are so many things we might observe from this incident. Perhaps that is why this particular miracle appears in each of the gospels. Think with me just about three considerations we might overlook.
First, Jesus prepared the people to receive God’s blessings. John tells us that Jesus command was, “Make the people sit down.” Mark tells us that Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down “in groups,” ranks of hundreds and fifties (Mark 6:39-40). He must have wanted them to see how great this miracle would be, as well as wanting to make the distribution of the food efficient. They needed to first of all get it together and sit down in an orderly way.
Does that sound simplistic. Yet perhaps we should stop and sit down and order our minds to receive the many blessings God has for us. We are so busy. Too busy to read our Bibles. Too busy to go to worship when the saints meet. We may or may not even pray in our cars as we rush to and from work or class or running our families around town. The idea that we should stop our activities and make time with Jesus our priority is difficult for us to do. Have we forgotten that it is God who blesses us, who recognizes our needs, and who is waiting to provide them? So we should take time out and just sit down! Our lesser priorities keep us up and moving around in such a way that we disconnect from God. Time with God should not be a burden. We should find our identity, our purpose, our strength and our wisdom in Him.
Second, we need to receive what Christ has to give us with thanksgiving. Notice, Jesus did not distribute the loaves and fish until he had “given thanks.” God’s greatest gift is not the loaves and fish but His desire to give them to us; i.e., His wish to provide us with the good things of life that we need. Do you thank God for the food that sustains your life before you take it into your body? And it is not just physical food that we should be thankful for.
Third, we see how abundant God’s blessings really are. Think of it! Feeding five thousand in one day. How many does He feed today? Over 7.9 billion people, all of earth’s population. God provides in abundance. And the provision is even greater in providing spiritual bread, provision for satisfying our hunger for inner peace. He supplies guidance, grace, and salvation through Jesus Christ. Won’t you come to Jesus and be fed as those were in Jesus’ own day.