Summary: We can't allow the blessings of God to go unclaimed. How much are we leaving on the ground? A look at the Miracle of the Feeding of the 5000.
Gather the Fragments and Fill Your Basket
By Rev. James May
In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, there is the story of one of the greatest miracles that Jesus performed while he ministered among the Jews. Jesus always looked upon the multitudes with compassion. Though he loved each person he encountered, and he made it a point to reach out and touch each one that came to him in faith, believing in his power to heal and deliver, Jesus never forgot that there were multitudes around him that were still wandering in spiritual darkness and in distress over the cares of life.
We often tend to focus so inwardly, or to have such a narrow view of life that we often miss the big picture. It’s challenging enough for some of us to be concerned and show compassion to those within our little circle of friends and family, much less to gaze with compassion upon the multitude of people around us. I think the reason that many people never get involved in reaching out to the multitudes is that we are often overwhelmed by immensely great needs of everyone around us.
There’s not a day goes by that some new tragedy is brought to our attention. When you being to think of the numbers of people who are caught up in drugs, alcoholism, and the sinful lifestyle of this world; and then add to that the vast numbers who are stricken with physical diseases that threaten to take life, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and so many others; it seems to drive you almost to the point of despair because there’s just so little that any of us can do to really make a difference in so many lives.
But Jesus still focused in on the needs of the multitudes. He didn’t ignore them because their numbers were great and their needs were many. He still tried to reach out to them in every way he could.
Jesus came and died upon the cross for the multitudes. “Whosoever will” includes every one of the nameless faces lost in the sea of humanity. There’s not one of that multitude that He doesn’t care for, not one that he would allow to be cast aside and be counted as unworthy of his mercy and grace. The compassion of Christ reaches out to all men, everywhere, in every nation, tribe, tongue and people. There is no one soul that will pass into eternity without God knowing it, and every one of them will have felt that somewhere in their innermost being, there was something needed; something that only their Creator could fill.
In John Chapter 6 we see that Jesus looked once again upon the multitude with compassion. He was acutely aware of their needs; always focused on being the Provider for the entire human race. The heart of God is always inclined to bless his people whenever His people will have faith to accept it.
Matthew 9:36, "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."
Matthew 14:14, "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick."
The miracle that was about to happen, of course, is the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 with 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish.
Is there a significance in the fact that these were barley loaves? First of all they must have been pretty small, after all this little boy carried five of them in his basket. They probably were not much larger than a biscuit that you would eat at breakfast.
It was about the time of the barley harvest in Israel, and the time of the Passover was drawing close. At the feast of the Passover the priests would take a sheaf of barley and use it as a wave offering in the temple as a form of praise for the harvest and of a giving of the first fruits of the gathering of the grain.
But barley wasn’t the favored bread of the people. It was made into bread because sometimes that was all that was available to make bread, but the bread was not the best of tasting or quality and was more often used as feed for the horses and camels. Only the poorest of the people would live on barley bread because of its very coarse texture. Those who could afford it would prefer the bread made from flour that came from the wheat harvest.
Perhaps this was the Lord’s way of saying, “Though the bread that I will offer may not seem to be the most favored thing in your life; it will be more than sufficient to meet your need and provide the sustenance you need for life.” Many would not partake of this barley bread, often rejecting it as too hard, too coarse, and hard to digest. And so would they reject the Lord himself; that Bread of Life that was sent down to us from Heaven.