Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)
Jesus’ disciples just returned from going around villages and told Jesus all they had done — preaching and healing the sick. Jesus was truly pleased with His disciples who reported what God did through them. Jesus especially rejoiced because they experienced God and His power by eye-witnessing the work of God through their own eyes and by touching with their hands.
Jesus and His disciples were also told about the news that John the Baptist had been executed by Herod Antipas. The chilling news about John the Baptist immediately cooled down the joy of reporting God’s works done through them. The mood was suddenly completely changed, and they became silent. Nobody was talking anything, but watching each other’s eyes.
Through the day, they also had not eaten because of the huge number of people around them, who came to see Jesus and wanted to be touched by Jesus. They didn’t have time to rest either. Jesus knew their burden in hearts from the chilling news and their physical needs of resting. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile,” out of love and compassion.
So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone and taking rest. However, many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them, because they saw the signs Jesus had performed by healing the sick. The crowd badly wanted Jesus because they were really needy. Some of them physically sick, but most of them were poor in spirit, hungry for justice, and thirty for righteousness because there were harassed under the occupation of the Romans.
Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things to satisfy their spiritual needs and hunger for justice and righteousness. While hearing Jesus, they felt the peace and comfort from heaven even though there were still on earth. Their minds were brightened and their hearts were filled with God’s mercy and grace. Their pains and hardships were no more in their hearts. Jesus was their true shepherd. Jesus continued, and they were there to hear Jesus. It was getting late, and His disciples were with Him. Late in the afternoon his disciples could not endure any more, and they came to him and said,
“This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.” (Mark 6:36b)
Jesus, who was interrupted by His own disciples, became silent for a while. Then Jesus said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” It was quite an unexpected response from Jesus. According to the Book of John, Jesus tested Philip:
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. (John 6:6)
Philip, who was quite good on earthly matters, quickly did the math in his mind, and swiftly answered,
“It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:7b)
Philp was absolutely right. It would be very costly to feed the entire crowd. There was 5,000 men. Together with their wives and children, the total number easily reached to 10,000 to 15,000 people. Philip tried to solve the challenge with an earthly wisdom. Yes, feeding that many people in the middle of nowhere was very difficult to achieve. In fact, it was essentially impossible at the time and place. First of all, Jesus’ disciples had some fund, but it was not enough to cover the expense. Jesus had never asked His disciples to actively raise a fund for His ministry. Rather He always gave out His blessings and the Good News of the kingdom of heaven to comfort people coming to Him. Even Jesus instructed to His disciples before sending them away, not to carry extra tunics or sandals because those who worked for God deserved to be fed. Thus, there was essentially no money at all to buy food for the huge crowd. It was the first big concern of Philip. Second, it was also unthinkable to send ten to fifteen thousand people to nearby towns to purchase food at once. Even nowadays, it is not reasonable to expect that ten to fifteen thousand people suddenly come to one town while expecting all of them getting fed at once. Philip was so smart. He could think through all these factors, and he answered.
Again Jesus was quite, while looking at Philip and the rest of the disciples. Philp and the rest of the disciples did not know what to do because Jesus just looked at them silently. Soon, it became clear that Jesus was waiting for something. It was an awkward moment for the disciples because they knew they couldn’t do anything. Nothing. They had no money to buy enough food to feed the crowd. Of course, even if they had had enough money, no town would be able to serve that large crowd with enough food.
Suddenly, one boy came to Andrew, one of the twelve disciples, Simon Peter’s brother. The boy presented five barley loaves and two small fish to Andrew, which was prepared by the boy’s mother for the boy in the morning. The small boy needed his own food for himself, but with a heart of sharing, he was willing to share with his food with others. Both the boy and Andrew knew the food presented by the small boy was literally nothing for the huge crowd. Even so, Andrew presented the small amount of food to Jesus, which was offered by the small boy.
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9)
Once seeing the boy’s food offered, Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” The disciples could not understand why Jesus responded like that. Although it was very puzzling, the disciples simply obeyed. Obedience is one important key to open God’s miraculous supernatural power and His blessings on earth.
There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred. Again, five thousand men were there.
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, which was so little compared with the needs of the large crowd, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted.
Jesus did a miracle to fill the people’s hunger around Him. Jesus was compassionate, and he continued providing food to the people around Him until all of them were fully satisfied. Jesus, as Son of God, was certainly able to create food out of nothing. However, He did not. Instead, Jesus used the boy’s small lunch – five barely loaves and five small fish. Yes, it was so small, which was only enough to feed the small boy, but with the small food presented by the boy, Jesus fed the huge crowd (ten to fifteen thousand people). Yes, Jesus literally multiplied the boy’s small lunch to the food for ten or fifteen thousand people! Imagine what Jesus can do if we offer our small thing to Him. Jesus can multiple our small offering to ten, hundred, thousand, and even ten thousand times for His kingdom on earth. Nothing is too small to God, who sees through our hearts.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. The leftover alone was much bigger than the initial boy’s five barely loaves and five small fish. This is how God’s math works. One small thing offered with our humble heart can be as big as ten or fifteen thousand times for His kingdom. Even the leftover alone is much greater than what we have initially offered to God. God never makes anything that we offered to Him wasted. He collects the remnants and also uses them for His Kingdom. Yes, nothing is wasted in Him once we truly offered our small thing to God with our humble heart to God. This is the blessing promised by God.
Often, we don’t know what to do because we confront with a problem that is too big for us to overcome. How big is the problem? we even could not figure out where to start and how to approach, because the problem is daunting and completely impossible. Then this is the time for us to remember what the boy did. Present what we have to God honestly and humbly like the boy, and watch what God does for us. God uses what we offered to Him, no matter how small or miserable, for His Kingdom and blessings for us and people around us, which is our faith. This is His graceful manifestation of His mercy, and love. Give thanks to God, who loves our heart and humility, and uses whatever is offered to God, and multiples for His Kingdom. Praise God, for His loving kindness to each of us and His merciful hand on each of our shoulders!
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27)