Summary: Do you doubt that God can use you because you don't have any talents? Rely on the power of God who can turn five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
The Guinness Book of World Records says the largest picnic in history occurred in Britain when over 8300 people picnicked together in 2009, well, sort of together. The count for this picnic included people in over a hundred different locations in Great Britain. They were ‘together’ only in the sense that it was organized that they would picnic all at the same time on the same day. And they all brought their own food. Maybe the Guinness Book people need to read the Gospels because Jesus hosted a picnic a couple thousand years ago in which 5000 men ate. Include women and children and there may have been 25000 people or more and all in one location. And they didn’t bring their own food to this picnic; they had come to feast on the Word of God alone. Jesus gave them this but Jesus also gave them a meal of bread and fish.
The feeding of the 5000 may be the most well-known of Jesus’ miracles. You have to admit that it’s pretty amazing to feed a massive crowd with only five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. But let’s take a look at the situation. In the previous passages of this chapter of Matthew, John the Baptist had been beheaded at Herod the tetrarch’s order and Jesus had just been told about it. Jesus was in mourning for the one who had prepared His way and baptized Him and He was looking to get away to be alone with His disciples. So He got in a boat to go to ‘a solitary place’. But when people heard about it, they went on foot to meet Him. I would imagine that Jesus probably felt like telling them, “Can’t you people just let me alone for a while. I need some time to Myself once in a while.” But He didn’t send them away. Instead of being concerned with His own heartache, He had compassion for the people and began healing all those who were sick.
It was starting to get late and the disciples brought it to Jesus’ attention that it was getting close to supper time. They were probably getting hungry themselves, and with such a large crowd, they knew they’d never be able to have enough food for so many people. And it was a huge crowd. Try to imagine how large a buffet line it would take to handle a group that large. But Jesus tells His disciples to give them something to eat. After they picked their jaws up off the ground, they brought Him the 5 loaves of bread and two fishes and had the people sit in groups on the ground.
We’re not told how the loaves and fishes multiplied to feed so many people. We’re just told that Jesus gave thanks to His Father for the food and handed the loaves and fishes to the disciples. It seems that the disciples probably took a basket or two of food to each of the groups. The amount of food must have grown at each and every step of the way, as the baskets were filled and as it was passed around in the group of people. This was a miracle that probably few people actually noticed. All they knew was that their stomachs were full. It wouldn’t have been evident except to those who may have noticed that Jesus and the disciples hadn’t brought a couple of trailer loads of food with them. As long as our needs get met, we rarely look behind the scenes to see how a meal gets prepared for us. Have you ever sat down in a restaurant and thought about all the deliveries and all the work that went into preparing your meal?
With this miracle, we see what Jesus can do with so little. The Gospel of John tells us that the loaves and fishes were given to the disciples by a little boy. It wasn’t much but he gave all that he had. And it was this meager gift that Jesus used to feed so many people. We often think that the gifts that we have been given, our abilities and talents, even our money, are of no real consequence. We so often say to ourselves, “I just don’t have enough talent to serve God. I can’t [fill in the blank] (lead a Bible study, organize a mission trip, visit prisoners in jail or the sick in hospitals, etc.). We might say to ourselves “My testimony of the power of Jesus Christ in my life is just not very compelling, there’s no point in me witnessing to others or even inviting my neighbor to church.” And so we don’t make use of what God has given us. We think we have to rely on only our own abilities and we are underwhelmed with our God-given talents but overwhelmed by the task; we don’t recognize that God wants us to use even our weakness to His glory. We forget that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. We don’t think about what God can do with us. But God did not give us a spirit of timidity and yet we are afraid. He gives us what He wants us to have and He wants us to rely on Him. See what God can do with you. You can use the gifts that you have been given for the glory of the Lord and your gifts can be multiplied just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes.