Summary: The story of the feeding of the 5000 contains some wonderful principles that teach us much about how, when and why God provides
In mark 6:33-44, we’re going to see that God is a God who provides. We find a marvellous example of God providing food for 5000 men plus women plus children, maybe up to 20,000 people, and he provides enough for everybody to eat with just a boy’s lunch of bread and fish. This story is found in all four gospels. The only miracle other than the resurrection found in all four gospels. So it’s very important.
The Reason for God’s provision.
V34 “and Jesus when he came out saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus said in Matt 7:11 “if you earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” He provides because he cares.
Now look at
The need for God’s provision.
V35 “when the day was now far spent.” Daylight is burning out. His disciples came to him and said “this is a deserted place and already the hour is late. Send them away that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat.” And here lies the need for provision. We all have needs. A medical condition that defies the doctors. A job search that isn’t yielding results. A financial situation that no matter how hard you tried isn’t getting better but worse. A relationship that has taken a southbound turn and you can’t seem to pull it up. We need God’s provision because we all have needs.
Now look at
The Purpose in God’s provision.
V37. “But he answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” There’s a showstopper. You feed them. The disciples are, in the vernacular, flummoxed. V37 “You mean we should go and buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” “How would we do that?” “Why would we do that?” “Where do we get the money from to do that, and how do we carry that much bread?” “And what one store will carry that much bread?” “And how long would that even take?” They’re flummoxed. Now why would Jesus say that? It’s not because Jesus doesn’t want to provide. Look at the context earlier in this chapter. V7 Jesus sent out the disciples 2 by 2, and he said in v 8, “take nothing for the journey except a staff, no bag, no bread, no copper in your money belts.” Why? Jesus is teaching them to trust their heavenly Father to provide, and they go out and they discover that the Father provided their food and money. In Luke 22:35 just before Jesus is arrested he reflects back to this time and he says, “When I sent you out without money, knapsack and sandels did you lack anything?” And they answered one word. “Nothing.” God provided.
And so this is just a short while later, and when Jesus says, “You give them something to eat,” Its a continuation of the same training in God’s provision. It’s a test. He’s giving them an opportunity to trust God again and to watch God provide. God provided their bread earlier in the chapter he’ll do it again, and he’ll do it for all these people. I believe if they’d just trusted and said, “Sure Lord, we’ll feed them. Just show us how.” They would have been the ones doing the miracle instead of Jesus. But they missed it. They’re back to porridge as they say in Ireland. Back to the old way of thinking again. In the flesh. The purpose of Jesus telling them to feed the people, is to manifest God’s power and God’s glory and God’s care and provision in their lives, and to deepen their faith, and grow their amazement at who God is. That’s why God provides for you. To draw you closer to him. That you’ll trust him, and know him as a God who cares and provides and supplies.
The condition for Gods provision.
V38 “but he said to them how many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out they said five and two fish. We know from John’s gospel that this food came from a wee boy who had the presence of mind-or maybe his mother had the presence of mind-to pack a lunch. Five barley loaves and two small fish. Two sardines. But the disciples say “What are they among so many?” See they still don’t get it.
I remember as a kid being troubled by this story. The only loaf of bread I knew was the Mother’s Pride crusty sliced loaf of bread, the size of a square 10 pin bowling ball, that the bread man brought to the door every day. And I thought this kid had five loaves of bread that size. And I couldn’t understand what this kid was doing with five mothers pride loaves of bread for his lunch. But a barley loaf was very small, almost the size of a cracker. It wasn’t very much at all. But notice, for this kid it was a lot. It was his lunch. It was all he had. And nobody else seemed to have had the foresight to pack a lunch and carry it with him all day. That’s a chore. To truck a lunch bag around all day, and now these ugly big fishermen are going to snag it off him. Now here’s the condition for God’s provision. Somebody has to give before God will provide. Every miracle in the Bible is conditional on somebody taking a step of faith before God provides. Turning water to wine. They had to fill the jars with water first. The man with the embarrassing withered hand had to stretch it out in full view before he got healed. The stone had to be rolled away before Lazarus was raised. Every instance of God’s provision is preceded by a step of faith. God wants to provide for you, and he’s waiting for you to trust him with a step of faith. You may think you have little of any consequence. That boy didn’t have much. Just a lunch. Few crackers and sardines. It’s not what you have it’s who you’re giving it to that counts. Many an opportunity to see the wonder of God’s activity and God’s provision and God’s presence and power is missed because of fear, and an unwillingness to be bold and courageous and step up, and step out in faith and say, “Sure I’ll trust him.” Here’s my contribution. It’s not much. Just a lunch. Just a word. Just a small gift. Just a letter. Just a friendly phone call. Now let’s see what God will do with it..