Reflections from the feeding of the five thousand (Luke 9:10-17)
One of the key elements in Jesus ’ ministry was the forgiveness of sins, when Jesus came to him before anything happened He always said words along the lines of your sins are forgive. Before anything, Jesus addressed the root cause of the issue, the spiritual cancer within them; the sin. However after doing this Jesus address the physical injury as well, He didn 't leave the paralytic who was complete immobile stuck there, instead he continued to go on and heal them.
Despite Jesus coming to save people spiritually He still addressed their physical situation then and there. There is no point in this world being so â€˜spiritual ’ that you miss the needs of the world. The world just doesn 't need another â€˜religion of theory ’ where people read these books, talking about all these wonderful things that Jesus did if they don 't then go and put them into practice.
A prime example of this is when Jesus feeds the 5000… After preaching at the people for hours everyone is feeling hungry and tired. The disciples notice this and suggests to Jesus that He should send them away so that they can get back and have some food. Yet rather than their suggestion Jesus turns to the disciples and says â€˜You feed them ’ (Luke 9:13), Jesus tells the disciples to feed 5000 people there and then without any plan. Crazy!
The first thing that they think about is what that actually means, they would need to have to do this, in Mark 6 it says that the disciples were thinking about how much it would cost to feed all these people; â€˜that would take eight months wages to feed all theses people, you want us to do that? ’ Their immediate thoughts are what they have against what they need, and the know that they don 't have anywhere near enough, the disciples probably have a little bit of money on them, and they knew what Jesus was like, they knew he would talk for hours so they probably brought some food, but not enough to feed this number. Then this little boy turns up (John 6:9) and gives Jesus his packed lunch and then Jesus proceeds to feed all these people with 5 loaves and 2 fish…
The disciples saw what they didn 't have, they didn 't have enough food and money so they didn 't give anything for Jesus to use. In the same way it is so easy for us to think that what we don 't have will mean that Jesus won 't be able to us. Jesus asked the disciples to do something that they thought was impossible, however Jesus doesn 't ask you to do anything that you and Him cannot handle. A lack in resources doesn 't bind God 's power, all he asks is that you give what you have. Together with the help of the disciples and the little boy Jesus get the group to sit down and then provides for them.
One of the easiest things that Jesus could of done would of just to send the people away to go and look after themselves, but He didn 't. He showed that He cared about the peoples needs here and now. As with the healings the first thing he did was to cater for the spiritual needs through teaching, however he then went on to feed the physical needs. He cared about the physical needs of people and knew that you cannot minister to a person without addressing both the spiritual and the physical needs. It is so easy to talk about God providing for needs, however you need to make yourself available for God to use you to help others with those needs in their lives.
The disciples had too little resources to feed these people, but they did have something, even still they did not give it to Jesus to take and to uses. The little boy mentioned in John had even less than these 12 grown men who knew Jesus, yet despite having so little he still offered it up to Jesus, Jesus took this small offering and turned it into something amazing. He took the gift of a young child and performed one of the most miraculous miracles in the Bible. This says to me that it doesn 't matter who you are, age should be no barrier between you and Jesus. It doesn 't matter how young or old, or somewhere in the middle you are it is that we offer what we have to Jesus. If we offer nothing to God then He has nothing to use, yet He can take what we have and will use it for His glory.
The second thing about this little boy is what he had was really small, it was just enough to feed him. So often it can feel that what we have is not enough, it 's what the disciples thought. Yet this story says one thing about that; what you give to Jesus he takes and then multiplies it. God has given us so much in the forms of talent, time and treasure, God can take any of these things and multiply them for His purposes. But the little boy had to offer up his treasure for Jesus to use them, Jesus took this and multiplied in for His glory.
So often people go around talking about how spiritual they are, they have all this talk, all these big words, however it is pointless for them, everyone around them and ultimately to God is all they are doing is talking about it. They talk but do they allow God to use them? In the book of James later on in the New Testament the author talks about faith and deeds saying that it is great to have faith, however you need to put your faith in the practice, deeds are the outwards sign of the faith within you (James 2:14). While faith saves having Jesus within your life it flows from you effecting everyone around you, in an unbelieving world you must have the deeds to back up your faith. When Jesus saw the people hungry, when Jesus saw the injured and the ill the Bible says that â€˜His heart went out to them '. He could of just healed them spiritually, however he also acted physically and healed their physical condition as an outward sign that they had been changed. What is our outward sign that we have been changed? We cannot just preach at those in poverty, we need to get involved and help them.
Even from such as small gift that the boy gave Jesus came plenty for all the people there to be really well fed with left overs. What little that we give will be multiplied and it 's effectiveness will go beyond our imagination. The boy made himself available to the power of God, in return the food fed not only himself, but him and five thousand other people. Everyone there ate until they had their fill, the boy got a bigger lunch than what he would normally of had! What he gave was multiplied and then returned to him just with so much more.
Our call is to go and feed them,
It is a universal call for everyone,
Nothing that we can offer is too small for God,
We can use our talent, our time or our treasure,
God will take the small offering we have and multiply it,
We can 't do this in our own strength,
We need God alongside,
If you trust in Him, God will use you.
A way that the Christian Union in Lincoln has been working on this is through what we are calling the â€˜Water Stations '. What we have been doing is a really small thing, a few nights each term we are going and standing outside The Engine Shed on campus which is the main club venue for students and just handing them bottled water as they leave. This gives us the opportunity to just talk to people as they leave, to spread the gospel, but also to often fulfill their current physical need of actually drinking some water as they leave.
We rarely see the effect of what we are doing there straight away, however we know that we have given something for Jesus to take, to use and to multiply.