Summary: “Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘...send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ But Jesus said, ‘they need not go away; you give them something to eat" (Matthew 14:15-16)
Theme: You give them something to eat
Text: Is. 55:1-5; Romans 9:1-5; Matt. 14:13-21
God as Creator created every individual with unique characteristics and no two persons are the same. They have different gifts to use to glorify God but this does not always happen. Many people are not even willing to identify their gifts. Instead of identifying and making use of their individual gifts they focus their attention on those who are successfully making use of their gifts. They either try to imitate them or oppose them as if they were enemies. We can never have the same measure of success when we neglect our own gifts to imitate the gifts of other people. Every individual should identify their gift and perfect it to glorify God. People like Azumah Nelson and Asamoah Gyan identified their gifts and perfected them. Asamoah Gyan cannot expect the same measure of success he has as a footballer in a boxing ring just as Professor Azumah Nelson cannot expect the same measure of success he has as a boxer on the football field. They identified their individual gifts and successfully pursued careers that required those gifts. Every saved person receives an additional gift, the gift of eternal life and the provisions of the New Covenant.
God gives gifts to everyone. Christ can tell us to give the hungry what they need since He has given us all He had. In Isaiah 55, God invites everyone who thirsts to come and freely partake of His abundant provisions. Instead many people rather spend money on things that lead to unmet needs and destroyed lives. God has revealed His will and willingness to meet all our needs. His love and compassion compelled Him to give sight to the blind, heal the lame and the sick, cast out demons and feed the hungry. Today many people are more concerned about themselves than about Jesus Christ. They are more concerned about the experience of miracles and healings than about the love and compassion of Christ. Our focus on Christ reveals the importance of His Word and His promises. The Law served to reveal sin and God’s promise of a Saviour, who would free man from sin and the devil.
The love and compassion of Christ compelled Him to meet the need of the hungry multitude. Jesus knew what He was going to do but still asked Philip what they could do. Philip looked at their resources and concluded there was nothing to be done. Philip, like many of us today, tried to solve the problem with the resources at hand by himself. Believers do the same today when faced with problems. They forget about Christ. Instead of inviting God into the situation we become discouraged. There is a story about a king named King Saul. He and his people were at war and were about to lose the battle against Goliath and the Philistines because they left God out of the battle. (I Samuel 17) David surveyed the same situation, brought God into the battle and went out to defeat Goliath and the Philistines. Believers should never assess a difficulty in the light of their own resources. They cannot solve it in their own strength but in God’s strength.
God has given His gifts to everyone but only those who receive it by faith possess them. God has given us eternal life “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16) Faith believes and acts upon the Word of God. It is not enough to pray and ask. “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”. (Mark 11:24) Faith gives us access to the grace of God and the life of the believer is a life of faith. “The just shall live by faith”. (Heb. 10:38) Grace is the ‘undeserved favour’ of God. This is only possible because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin by the shedding of His blood. Grace also refers to the enabling power of God in our lives. Grace empowers to live the abundant life. Jesus Christ came that we may have life and that we may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
The abundant life is the life of Christ. It is a life of love, compassion, concern and sacrifice to glorify God. The grace of God empowers us to live the life of Christ and glorify God. The life of Christ sees every need as an opportunity to glorify God and experience His provision. God today is relying on believers to appropriate Jesus’ miracle-working power in their everyday lives. When believers place themselves and what they have in the hands of God, as Jesus did with the 5 barley loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men, they put themselves in a position to witness a miracle. Jesus needs us and what we can offer. We may not have much to offer Him according to the world’s standards or even according to our own, but He needs what we have. Can it be possible that the world is denied miracle after miracle because we will not offer Christ what we have? The blessed bread and fish multiplied in the hands of the disciples as they shared it among the multitudes. What we have may be little and of inferior quality. But if we offer it to Christ, He will transform it and multiply it. Little is much if God is in it. We can have little and it will remain little as long as we keep it. But if we have little and give it to God, God multiplies it. When we recognise that everything belongs to God we do not only overcome our reluctance to give but we also overcome our concern about material things.