Jesus Heals Many People
29From there, Jesus went along Lake Galilee. Then he climbed a hill and sat down. 30Large crowds came and brought many people who were paralyzed or blind or lame or unable to talk. They placed them, and many others, in front of Jesus, and he healed them all. 31Everyone was amazed at what they saw and heard. People who had never spoken could now speak. The lame were healed, the paralyzed could walk, and the blind were able to see. Everyone was praising the God of Israel.
Jesus Feeds Four Thousand
32Jesus called his disciples together and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been with me for three days, and they don't have anything to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry. They might faint on their way home.”
33His disciples said, “This place is like a desert. Where can we find enough food to feed such a crowd?”
34Jesus asked them how much food they had. They replied, “Seven small loaves of bread and a few little fish.”
35After Jesus had told the people to sit down, 36he took the seven loaves of bread and the fish and gave thanks. He then broke them and handed them to his disciples, who passed them around to the crowds.
37Everyone ate all they wanted, and the leftovers filled seven large baskets.
38There were 4,000 men who ate, not counting the women and children.
39After Jesus had sent the crowds away, he got into a boat and sailed across the lake. He came to shore near the town of Magadan.
As you read about the feeding of the 4,000, put yourself in the scene. Do you think the men and women, sitting in groups of 50, knew where their bread was coming from? Now put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. What was it like for Jesus’ inner circle to witness the astounding miracle of the expanding bread?
As usual, Jesus has a bigger agenda than feeding the hungry masses. He has another lesson for the Twelve. Most of the time, Jesus acts and the disciples watch and ask questions. This time Jesus pulls them together for a strategy session. I wonder if he’s testing them to see if they learned anything from the last time he fed the masses.
If you were one of the disciples, what would be your tone of voice as you say, “Seven loaves and a few small fish”? Would you say it optimistically and eagerly, like an intern fresh on the job? Or like someone at the end of a 12 hour shift who’s trying to make a point to Jesus? Would you even have the faith to offer Jesus anything?
God often includes us in his provisions. He asked Moses, “What’s in your hand?” and then used Moses’ rod as the starting point for his miraculous display of power to Pharoah. Jesus said if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain. There’s an element of faith in offering seven loaves to feed 4000 hungry men and women, but Jesus doesn’t seem to want to act without that mustard seed.
We are often paralyzed by the scope of the need. The sheer impact of a tsunami or hurricane can render us hopeless, but Jesus asks us, his disciples, to have faith. What’s in your hand? God can multiply your miniscule faith and your miniscule gifts to accomplish massive results. But we have to have faith to open our hands.
Multiplying God, I don’t understand why you want to use my meager gifts. Give me faith to offer myself for your service. As you did with Moses, I know you will use such offerings to accomplish far more than I can imagine. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen.