God sees your need and makes plans to take care of them. He is touched with your needs. He has compassion for you
Does something happen to you when you see people hungry? What if they are in the wilderness? Does something happen to you when you see people lost and away from Jesus? Something happened to Paul (Romans 9:2). Are you touched with the needs of other people or you leave it to be their responsibility. As a leader at your church, what touches your heart? What moves you? It is powerful when that which touches you is just what touches the heart of Jesus.
There is a clear difference between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus wants to help the people but His disciples think the people should help themselves (see Matt. 14:15-16). The implication is that while others advance an argument to keep you in bondage, Jesus looks for ways of relieving your pain and suffering. This is what happened at the feeding of the 5000.
The feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle recorded by all four gospel writers. Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31–44; Luke 9:11–17; John 6:1–13. After this miracle, Jesus taught the multitudes that He is the Bread of Life in the John account.
God is the God of order. Jesus commanded that they should make the people sit down. So there will be order at the place. Else, it would have been chaos. Imagine that number of people standing and being served food. There would have been so much confusion. People do not get to that number at major events and yet the fight over food can be so much.
THE HEART OF JESUS
The key to effective ministry is to have the heart of Jesus. What kind of heart did He have? Jesus is looking for people who will be His hands extended and who will have His heartbeat. I have cried on many occasions saying, 'Lord, give me Your heartbeat'.
a. Compassion and deep Desire for the Multitude
Splankzomahi (hee) is the Greek word for compassion used in the passage. It portrays that the very bowels were moved. One thing that moves our Lord Jesus is when He sees the multitudes. When He sees their need, it moves Him greatly. In the same way, Your needs move Him greatly. Your vulnerability moves Him. When you see so many people moving to a deserted place and stay there till it is very late in the evening, you know they have real needs. The people who went over to Him had real needs.
Jesus paid the price for our needs to be met. Our salvation, our food, our healing have all been paid for on the cross. It is the compassion for the people that moved Him to say that "you give them something to eat" (verse 16). Paul had that compassion for people. In Romans 9:2, he wrote "... I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart".
b. The Heart of a Shepherd – Ezekiel 34
Jesus' heart was to make sure that the sheep are not prey to the enemy. The protection of the sheep was His passion. He came to feed the sheep as the Bread of Life. That is why you and I are worshipping Him today – His protection, His love, His provisions, the wisdom and the guidance He gives us. Imagine worshipping a god that does not care about your needs. This heart is what drew the people to Him.
THE ARGUMENT OF HIS DISCIPLES
The disciples came to Him and made an argument in verse 15 of Matthew 14. Let us look a bit closely at their argument. First of all, they said 'this is a deserted place', as though Jesus did not know this. Secondly, they said 'the hour is late'. Thirdly, the disciples continued their argument and said that Jesus should 'send them away'. Send them away? It is like we cannot handle this problem. Just let them go. Let them go away. They further advised that He should 'let them go into the villages'. Fourthly, they suggested where the people should be sent to – the villages. Not one villages but to the villageS. Maybe all the food in one village may not be enough to feed all these people. The disciples figured out that the people will need to go all over the place. Finally and fifthly, the disciples said Jesus should 'let them buy food for themselves'. It is like saying 'let them help themselves'. They seem to be saying that 'in fact, we do not want to make the problems of these people our problems'.
I wonder why the disciples waited till evening before realising that it was late and the people will need food. The disciples demonstrated a number of things. Let us consider three of them.
• Lack of planning ahead. They waited till it is late before bringing the matter up. How do we plan for events - weddings, funerals, church programs?
• They were insensitive to the real needs of the people. They can come and hear the gospel but their real needs are their own problem.
• The third is greed. They had a little food and were thinking only about themselves - verse 17.
I am sure Jesus was teaching them to pick His heart before they go into ministry. The disciples will meet people with need and will have to feel their pain to enable them meet the needs. He was sending them out to do the work He started.
THE RESPONSE OF JESUS
Let us now look at the response of Jesus Christ in verse 16. "But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat"”. This He said in response to the request of the disciples. He said they do not need to go away. This is the direct opposite of the request of the disciples. The disciples wanted Jesus to send the people away BUT Jesus said they should stay. There are times when we seem to dismiss people quickly when we know they could benefit from what we have if they stay around a little longer. Do you intentionally take a longer time to finish preparing the food because someone is around and may benefit from it?
Jesus said the disciples should find something for the people to eat! "You give them something to eat"! What? What is Jesus talking about? 'Is He saying we should find something for all these people to eat?', the disciples might have thought to themselves. Jesus then asked that they bring the little they have to Him. You do not have to worry about sharing the little you have. Give that small thing to Jesus. With Him, little things become much. He multiplies the small thing that you have, if you will hand it over to Him. When you do that, many more people will benefit from it.
Jesus commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. He did not delegate the responsibility of doing this. He did it Himself. He wanted them to sit down so there will be order. He wanted accountability. When the people sit down, you can easily count them. They sat in groups of hundred and fifty. That way, you can monitor the process and also be able to know the number of people present. Jesus knows just how to manage the multitudes. We have a lot to learn from Him. His leadership approaches set the tone for us to follow. From this story, He was a:
• Compassionate leader
• Leader who was touched by the needs of those who follow Him
• Leader who knows what to delegate and what to do Himself.
• Leader who is in charge and knows what to do
• Mobilised people and resources to accomplish a lot and achieve results
• Leader who attracts large crowds of people and knows how to keep them together (manage large numbers). I was like one crusade after another with no notice to the people He will meet next.
• Understands the importance of data for planning and management. He knew the number of the people, the number of the bread and fish He multiplied, and the quantity of what was left over. Amazing!
As the Greatest Teacher, Jesus is showing us how to manage the multitudes, especially as leaders – whether in church or the corporate world. The disciples had to manage more than 3000 people at Pentecost (Acts 2:41). If all of a sudden, 500 more people show up at your church on Sunday, will you be able to manage the number in addition to what you already have. Are you ready for the phenomenal growth? Are you planning for growth or you are planning to remain small? Will people have to be running around to look for chairs and calling chair rental services if the number suddenly doubles? We need to know how to manage the multitudes and plan for growth. In your company, are you ready for large orders and bigger contracts? Can you handle it?
There is no need that seems so huge that Jesus cannot take care of. They all ate and were satisfied. God wants you to eat till you are satisfied. The disciples picked up the leftover and it was quantified. We need proper data for church management.
LESSONS ON FEEDING THE 5000
As a leader, if you are touched by the needs of the people, God will make a way for you to be the channel for meeting those needs. A leader must know what the needs of the people are - Proverbs 27:23. Look out for their needs. The people did not come to tell the disciples that they were hungry. Jesus saw the need and was moved to take care of it. What moves you as a leader?
While human beings, even the disciples of Jesus, think about scattering the people, Jesus wants to keep them together. He is the True Shepherd!
A leader must not do everything. Do what you cannot delegate and delegate everything else. Jesus received the small food, blessed and gave it to the disciples to be given to the multitudes. He did not give it to the multitudes directly. Effective delegation will free your hands to focus on the critical issues of the Word of God and prayer as a Christian leader.
The ability and willingness of Jesus to take care of your needs does not depend on what you have and what you can afford. He will meet your need. Jesus is so willing even right now to meet your need.
Stay with God! Do not leave His presence to go to look for food (things, things that will not truly satisfy). Activities like working over-time at the expense of family, and opening your shop on days of worship can draw you away from the presence of God. Stay with Jesus. Even if somebody suggests to you to go and look for your own food, do not go. That was what the disciples were suggesting, but do not go. God will take care of your need - in the most unusual way and in the most unexpected place. He will do the unexpected for you. He fed the 5000 in an unusual place. Spend time in a good church, and in good Christian fellowship settings and God will take care of your needs.
Reflecting on Isaiah 55:1, when you are hungry, the right place to go is to the Lord. Do not wait till you have money to go to Him. When you live away from Jesus, you may think you are making money, but it will never satisfy; it will never be enough for you. He is the Bread that truly satisfies.
God sees your need and makes plans to take care of them. He is touched with your needs. He has compassion for you. When you are sick, it touches Him. He is moved when you are hungry. He is the Good Shepherd. Make Him your Shepherd and come into a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the Bread that when you eat it, you will not hunger again. When you drink of Him, you will never thirst again.
Jesus knows what He will do about your problem. Trust in Him. Do not move away from Him. Do not stop going to church because of some leader who does not care about your needs. God sees your needs and has plans to meet them.