A. Matthew 16:5-12
Aside from His resurrection, the feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is a notable wonder which the Lord refers to on a future occasion to remind the disciples of His grand power.
B. Matthew 14:13-21
Observe what Christ accomplished in this great sign and the attending circumstances.
I. “HE DEPARTED… TO A DESERTED PLACE BY HIMSELF”
A. Matthew 14:13; 6:6; Ecclesiastes 4:9-11; Mark 6:31
Jesus was one who recognized the value of solitude. He had already preached about the need to pray privately. This is not to overlook the need for companionship, though. One may know when to be alone without becoming a loner. In fact, Mark’s account indicates He was not entirely alone, but in the company of His apostles, while seeking some distance from the multitude.
B. Matthew 14:10, 12; John 11:35; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4; Mark 1:1-4
Of course Jesus was reclusive on this occasion; He just found out John had died. Our Master was not above expressing deep emotion when His loved ones died. There is definitely a time to mourn and weep, especially considering who John was—besides the Lord’s cousin, this was the man who was sent by God to prepare others for Jesus’ coming.
C. Mark 8:31
Jesus well knew He would die for the gospel. The death of His preparatory messenger likely emphasized the weight of that burden.
II. “HE SAW A GREAT MULTITUDE; AND HE WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION”
A. Matthew 14:14
Despite the great personal loss He was experiencing, Christ had room in His heart for compassion on thousands.
B. Philippians 2:3-5; Romans 15:1-3
It wouldn’t have been remotely selfish of Jesus to maintain his distance during a time of bereavement, but He perceived the needs of others as greater than His own.
C. Romans 12:15-16
He had the “same mind” as those in need.
III. “HE RECEIVED THEM AND SPOKE TO THEM ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD”
A. Luke 9:11; Mark 6:34
Seeing the people as leaderless sheep, He chose to teach them.
B. 2nd Timothy 4:2
The “word” is fit to be preached in all seasons, even periods of grief and personal loss. I remember our brother Gary Johnsen telling me his sixteen-year-old son Jeremy was scheduled to preach the exhortation the Wednesday night of the week he was killed in a car wreck. The brethren in Gilbert would certainly have understood if the assignment were passed to another, but Gary accepted the task. In his sorrow, he found the strength to deliver the message of the gospel.
C. 1st Peter 3:15
The time to be “ready” to “defend” our “hope” is “always”.
IV. “THEY DO NOT NEED TO GO AWAY”
A. Matthew 14:16
It would have been reasonable to dismiss the crowds for nourishment, but Jesus insisted that attention to the gospel and attention to physical need were not mutually exclusive.
B. Matthew 6:25-34
Many Christians treat work as a hindrance to worship, but the Savior says that God must come first and the rest will fall into place.
C. Psalm 37:25
Saints don’t beg because God provides for us.
V. “GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT”
A. Mark 6:35-37
When Jesus instructed His disciples to feed the multitudes, those people had already “spent” the “day” in the presence of the Master. He wasn’t drawing the crowds in with promises of food. He fed them because they had already chosen to be with Him.
B. Acts 2:46; 1st Corinthians 11:22, 34
The earliest disciples chose to share their meals with one another, but they did so “from house to house”, a setting removed from where they worshiped. “Home” is the appropriate setting for food.
C. John 6:26-27, 32-35, 48-51; Matthew 4:4
Jesus specifically criticized those who decided to follow Him because of the food He provided on this occasion. He claimed to be, Himself, the true bread from heaven. He is what matters.
D. Acts 2:44-45; Romans 15:25-27
Notice that when the church does provide material goods it is to those already in a spiritual relationship with the brethren.
VI. “WHAT ARE THEY AMONG SO MANY?”
A. John 6:8-9
Although he wasn’t sure what could be done with just five loaves and two fish, Andrew at least had the wherewithal to bring the items to Jesus’ attention, apparently trusting that Jesus could accomplish something with so little, and the Lord did not disappoint.
B. Judges 3:31
The only thing known about the Israelite judge Shamgar is that he slew 600 Philistines with an ox goad. In the hands of God’s man, a simple stick is a devastating weapon.
C. 1st Samuel 17:50
A young man with faith and a rock downed the giant Goliath.
D. 1st Kings 17:8-15; 2nd Kings 4:1-7
Similar to the miracles of multiplying food that Jesus performed when He fed 5000 and 4000, Elijah and Elisha both worked miracles of multiplying food for widows of their days. The widow of Zarephath needed enormous faith to feed the prophet Elijah before herself and her son, when she was expecting that food to be their last meal before dying. The widow helped by Elisha was in great fear of her late husband’s creditor, so it must have been a real test of faith to be told to go and “borrow”, but she did and she was rewarded for it.
E. Genesis 2:7
Speaking of the amazing feats God can accomplish with so little, remember: He made man out of dirt. (And first, He made the dirt!)
F. Matthew 25:14-30
No matter how little we start out with, the Lord expects us to use it all in His service.
G. Mark 9:41
God will bless even the smallest actions undertaken in His name.
VII. “THEY SAT DOWN IN RANKS”
A. Mark 6:39-40
It may be beside the point, but we can note that Jesus saw to it that the people were organized.
B. 1st Corinthians 14:40, 33
Decency and order characterize church assemblies because God is not a god of confusion.
C. Proverbs 21:5
It is good to act on plans, rather than in haste.
VIII. “HE HAD GIVEN THANKS”
A. John 6:11; Matthew 14:19
Jesus gave thanks for the food; another account says He blessed it. Those are two ways of saying the same thing.
B. 1st Timothy 4:3; Colossians 3:17
All food is to be received with thanksgiving. Indeed, everything should be a cause for gratitude.
IX. “GATHER UP THE FRAGMENTS THAT REMAIN, SO THAT NOTHING IS LOST”
A. John 6:12-13
Most likely, the remainders were collected to prove that, not only could Jesus feed five thousand with five loaves and two fish, but that it wasn’t something just barely accomplished. There was abundance! However, we may recognize, as well, that the Master was careful to avoid waste.
B. Proverbs 21:20; 31:10-11
Squandering material blessings is a form of ingratitude.
X. “THIS IS TRULY THE PROPHET”
A. John 6:14
In the absence of Pharisees and others who would have spoilt it, the conclusion reached by the people was that Jesus is the one God promised to send!
B. Acts 2:22
It was the point of every sign, wonder, and miracle done that God was attesting the one working it.
By Bryan Matthew Dockens
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