When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then He took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed Him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to Him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here. ”He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)
But He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. Then He gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (Luke 9:10-17, NIV)
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This really happened.
It almost seems too nonchalant that Jesus was just, you know, healing people here and there, and then proceeded to materialize enough food for 5000 men (plus who knows how many women and children) out of five loaves and two fish.
Jesus was showing His divinity in a BIG and powerful way and each verse recounts a historical and miraculous moment.
At times, I found myself wishing for more of the story. Who were these people being healed? What did it really look like to see bread and fish being created and multiplied instantaneously?
I then found myself being challenged in the way that I read the Bible - and even the way I view the purpose of the miracles of Jesus.
Today, I challenge you with these few things:
Read the Bible with empathy.
When looking at this story, what would it look like if you were one of these 5000+ people?
You would most likely be very hungry; probably sitting for many hours in the Middle Eastern heat. Perhaps your family member who was battling a disease was recently healed by this man. And maybe this was your chance to see Jesus up close and personal.
I encourage you to put yourself in the shoes of the people in the Bible. Be empathic toward these very real people. Set the scene. Stories such as this will come to life, and perhaps, teach you more than you thought possible.
Remember that Jesus will ALWAYS show up.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say that they are leaving their church, switching their bible study, or making any number of changes to their “faith-based” activities because they weren’t “getting anything out of it.”
They feel as if God didn’t show up. They are waiting for the big, miraculous moment to happen for them.
I am often guilty of this type of thinking when I believe that the story is about me and how I can learn, apply, and be better. These aren’t bad things to desire or practice.
However, the constant expectation of doing something new or even fitting everything into a scenario in my life can become a hindrance to my personal relationship with Christ. I become bored and entitled.
On the other hand, when you begin to read the Bible with empathy, you also begin to realize and experience something outside of yourself.
In this passage, the point is that Jesus did something miraculous and He receives the glory and honor.
Whether He is multiplying fish and loaves or showing up in simpler, seemingly smaller, ways, Jesus is always there. We are simply called to listen and follow, and just like the 5000+ people of this story, we will share in the fruit of His glory.
Give what is given.
God often acts and shows His power to simply glorify Himself. And much like receiving the pieces of the bread and fish, we are able to partake and be fed by this glorification.
However, we can also take on the perspective and responsibilities of the disciples. Jesus tells us, “You give them something to eat.”
We are not only allowed to share and partake, but we are also called to give what is given. No matter how empty you feel, Christ will always equip those who are called according to His purpose.
So do not take on today with a fearful heart. Take on today with a heart that has been fed, sharing in the glory of God.
Thank you for joining us in studying today's miracle! We would love your help passing it along with others - AND, catch up on Jesus' past miracles by using the tabs below. As always, have a great day.
[quest writer, Steve Sullivant]