Summary: When Jesus fed the five thousand, as recorded in all four gospels, He demonstrated what He taught about God being the Provider of our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Most of the crowd, however, wanted food, not faith.

The Lord Jesus never taught anything about the nature and character of God the Father that He Himself did not demonstrate or model before either His disciples or the people who followed and listened to Him. When we first read of this miracle, mentioned in all four gospels, we see the Divine power of Jesus on display along with His compassion, concern, orderliness, provision, and the further opening of the apostle's spiritual sight and senses as to Who He was, God Incarnate among His people, fulfilling the prophecies spoken of by Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the other prophets of Scripture. His feeding of the crowd is a display of what He had taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). He had taught the people not to worry about where they would get food and clothing along with their other needs, as God would provide for them as He does for the animals in the wild. In feeding the people, He not only filled their stomachs with natural food, but also opened the door for them to understand that God feeds the soul as well with His Word.

Now, some people were spiritually sharp and saw Jesus as not only Provider but the Promised Savior of His people, while some saw this miracle as a means of obtaining a free meal every day and as part of a plan to seize Jesus, force Him to be King, and use His miraculous powers not only to keep Israel well fed, but also healed when they would fall wounded from the battle that would surely come with the oppressing power of Rome. They were certain that He would conquer and slay the hated soldiers of Caesar, driving them from the land of Israel once and for all, restoring the nation to an independent Kingdom ruled by this descendant of the great and wonderful David of old, or so they thought. He put a stop to that plan in its tracks the day after the event as recorded in John 6:22-40. The crowd wanted bread from Him, but when He offered them Himself as the Living Bread and to submit to Him as Lord, they dispersed to where He had no one except His disciples and a handful of authentic followers afterwards.

What bothers me when I watch movies about the Lord Jesus, especially when the film makers show the scene of the feeding of the crowd, is that it always seems to resemble a mob scene where the food is almost thrown at the people, or they are scrambling for the fish and bread that Jesus miraculously provides. We see none of this in the Scriptures. Jesus organized the crowd, had some of the people help the apostles with distributing the food and collecting the leftovers after everyone had eaten, insuring that the apostles would also get a chance to enjoy the best fish and bread they ever ate. Nobody left hungry or dissatisfied over what they had received that day. it goes to show that Jesus is not only the Provider of our needs if we would but trust Him to do so, but He also sees to it that we get everything we need in order to be satisfied, full, and thankful for His bountifulness. He does give everyone the ability to work for their food and provisions as He pleases, but there are times when we have all fell under some kind of hardship and He was there to give us what we needed, oftentimes in an unexpected way. The Psalmist writes of God's care for His people even when it looks like nothing is on the horizon (Psalm 37:25-26).

At one time my wife and I were members of a friendly but liberal leaning church in central Louisiana. I was in a Sunday School class where the teacher, upon reading of this account, said that it was not so much a miracle of Jesus, but a sense of guilt and shame that came over the crowd when they saw the child give his meager lunch over to the LORD to use to feed everyone, and they brought out their provisions and shared with everyone as a result of this act of selflessness. I do not see that in any way, shape, or form when I read this story. This was an attempt to downplay the obvious Divine work of the Lord Jesus and show a type of arrogance and self-imposed "wisdom" that tended to know better than the witnesses who were there and gave credibility to the event. What liberal and progressive so-called "Christian" pastors and teachers now tend to do is question and bring into doubt the very Word of God and its supernatural origin and structure (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:19-21). Some people simply cannot bring themselves to believe or even consider that God is Who He says He is in the Bible and what we have in our possession is the authentic record of His words, deeds, and plan of redemption that He put into place before the foundation of the world (John 1:1-4; Ephesians 1:3-14; Colossians 1:15-18).

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