The written accounts of Jesus in the Bible (called the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are filled with stories of Him doing the miraculous. Jesus walked on water, raised a man from the dead, healed a leper, turned water into wine, and fed thousands of people—twice!
The story of Jesus feeding 5,000 is the only miracle, besides Jesus rising from the dead, to be recorded in all four Gospels. John’s version says this:
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
The fact that Jesus was able to take five loaves and two fish and feed 5,000 men (plus women and children) is truly a miracle, but there are a few small details that are important to pay attention to:
Jesus doesn’t ask questions to gain information, but to extend an invitation
Jesus—God in the flesh—asks Philip where they can buy bread to feed the people. Why would Jesus do that? Do you think He really needed to know so He could go buy bread? Of course not! Jesus’ question was not about gaining information, it was an invitation to be part of something greater.
Jesus makes the “measly” miraculous.
The unsung hero of this story is someone who isn’t even named: a boy who offered his lunch. Surely in a crowd of 5,000 men, someone would have some food to share, but it was this young boy who stepped forward and generously gave what he had for the sake of others.
Generosity isn’t about an amount, it’s about the heart, and Jesus took what some people would consider measly (five small barley loaves and two small fish) and multiplied it…and multiplied it…and multiplied it until there were leftovers.
How often do you discount what you have to offer because it may not be enough? Maybe you can give one single dollar. God can multiply that to meet needs in our own backyard through the Dollar Club. Maybe you can give one hour a week. God can use that to create worship services where people encounter Him. If you are gifted in encouraging, encourage! If you love kids, help them experience God’s love. Whatever it is you have, and whatever you like to do, God can use it. All you have to do is accept the invitation.
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