Week 41: What's in Your Hand?
Matthew chapter 14 verses 13-21 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and he healed their sick.
15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
17 And they said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”
18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.”19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and he said a blessing. And then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.20 And they all ate and they were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Even if you are relatively new to Bible study, you probably heard of the feeding of the 5000. Now, one of the dangers of familiarity in regards to reading and studying the Bible is that we can tend to overlook some very important parts of the text that are right in front of our eyes.
One of the things that is often helpful with a familiar text is to read about the same event from a different author. Each one of the gospel writers see the same events through a slightly different lens. In this event, the crowd has grown to at least 5,000 and maybe as many as 15,000 if the men are the only ones being counted.
In John chapter 6, we get a few other details of this miracle. First of all, Jesus told the disciples that they could feed the crowd in order to test them. And secondly, according to John chapter 6, the fish and loaves came from a little boy.
Now, one of the key details from Matthew’s account of this event is found in verse 19. Notice very carefully who actually fed the people. It was the disciples that handed out the food to the hungry crowd. Now, obviously the miracle and the provision came from Jesus, but it came through His disciples.
Now, you may be asking, “why do these details matter?” Well, I’m glad you asked. In order to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus, you must dig into His word. And as you dig in, you start with what happened but then you must move to so what. And what I mean is that it isn’t enough to understand the details of an event from 2000 years ago, but we must be able to understand its implication in our lives today.
In regards to this account, I think many of us feel like the little boy with a couple of fish and five loaves. We may feel like we are not very significant and that what we have to offer would never even make a dent in regards to the great need we see in our world.
However, what we see here is still true today. When we are willing to give Jesus all that we have and trust Him, then He blesses it and is able to do infinitely more with our little scraps than we could ever hope or imagine. When we give generously of our time, and talents and treasure…then Jesus uses those things to advance His Kingdom for the Glory of God.
Another often overlooked application of this text is that Jesus did this miracle through His disciples. Not only did He tell them to feed the crowd, but He used them to accomplish this feat. I believe this is a picture of the Church today. The Church is God’s plan to take the gospel to this lost and needy world. Now it’s obvious that the miracle working power is found in Christ alone and yet He uses us to deliver the message.
As we step into this incredible season of our church here at Eleven22 called the ONE Initiative, I want you to ask yourself two questions based on this text. First, what do I have that if I were to put into the hands of Jesus could be used in extraordinary ways? And secondly, what role is God calling me to play in the advancement of His kingdom?
Now, imagine for just a second what it must have felt like to be one of the disciples that day and know that God used you to change thousands of lives.
You see, nothing will deepen your relationship with Jesus like being used to help others discover theirs.