headed home hungry – BUT GOD!

It had been a long day for everyone and now it was time to go home. “Everyone” was five thousand men and who knows how many women and children were there also? Neither Mark’s nor Luke’s nor John’s account of this BUT GOD incident, tell us how many were present in addition to the five thousand men. We are simply told it was a large crowd.

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14) Luke’s account of the event says,

“but the crowds learned about it and followed Him. He (Jesus) welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” (Luke 9:11)

What would warrant such a large gathering? Curiosity, perhaps? Rumors were rampant about this miracle working rabbi or teacher whose name was Jesus. People were following Jesus, maybe because they wanted to hear His teachings for themselves, probably because they were curious after hearing so many stories about things He had said and done, and most likely because they were hoping to witness a miracle or two. If truth be told, some of them may have harbored hope that if they showed up where Jesus was, they might even be the recipient of one of those miracles. After all, rumor had it that people with all kinds of infirmities were being healed. So they showed up hoping for a miracle. Well, this crowd was not disappointed. As we just read, Jesus had compassion on them, and He healed the sick among them.

Now, the crowd was large, the time was late in the day, and the location was a remote place far from any villages or towns. Our story continues –

“As evening approached, the disciples 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 villages and buy themselves some food.’ ” (Matthew 14:15)

Seems a like a good reason to disperse a large crowd of people – it’s late and you aren’t prepared to provide dinner for even a few, let alone the many. BUT GOD! Turns out, Jesus had a different idea of how things should play out. Jesus told His disciples that they should feed the hungry crowd before sending them on their way. The disciples couldn’t believe Jesus was asking them to do this. They had no food and the crowd was large. Jesus was asking them to do the impossible. They tried pointing out the obvious to Jesus –

“They said to Him, ‘That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’ ” (Mark 6:37)

“Philip answered Him, ‘Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ ” (John 6:7)

I, like the disciples, see the impossibility of the situation. Many people, no food and not enough money to buy food for so many. And even if there was money, eight months’ wages would provide each person only a bite of food, not a meal or even a snack. Our story continues,

“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?’ ” (John 6:8)

I have to admit if I’m honest, at this point in the story, I’m thinking the same thing – “it’s not enough, not even close!” But I, like the disciples, would do well to recall these words of Jesus, spoken in a different situation but applicable here, nonetheless –

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ” (Matthew 19:26)

Such a small supply of food and such a large crowd. BUT GOD! Read what happens next –

“Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ . . . 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.” (John 6:12) Mark’s account tells us,

“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.” (Mark 6:42-43) Matthew’s account adds to this saying –

“The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (Matthew 14:21)

Jesus wasn’t going to send anyone home hungry. And indeed, He didn’t. The people there that day didn’t receive just “a bite” to eat, to help stave off hunger till they could get to the nearest village or their homes. The accounts of this story tell us “they had all had enough to eat,” and “they all ate and were satisfied.” This was not simply subsistence or merely adequate – no this was a feast, a banquet of abundance with twelve baskets full of food to spare! Not one person left there hungry that day! The authors giving us this account each made a point to tell us that all had enough to eat, that all ate that day and all were full or satisfied.

Our God is not a God of barely surviving, but of “life to the full.” The people were satisfied, like it says in Psalm 145:15-16 –

“The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

Jesus took a little and turned it into a lot. The boy, in obedience, gave all he had to give, five small loaves and two small fish. Not nearly enough. BUT GOD! And then there were twelve baskets full of food after each person there had eaten until they were satisfied. Jesus had healed their physical infirmities that day and He had fed their souls with His Living Word. But because Jesus had taken on a physical body Himself, He knew these people also needed physical food in addition to spiritual food. (which is every word that comes from the mouth of God – Matthew 4:4) So Jesus fed their bodies as well as their souls that day.

No one encounters Jesus and comes away unchanged. We read in Luke 9:11 what happened that day before Jesus fed them –

“He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.”

Do you ever feel like sick, weary, hungry, dissatisfied, longing for something that will fill you full to overflowing is your constant, unchangeable condition in this life? Such were the people that came out to see and to hear Jesus that day. The people arrived ill, empty, and searching. They went away healed, filled with hope having found and heard the Living Word Jesus had spoken to them, and filled with the physical food Jesus provided for them on that day as well. Everyone went away satisfied, we are told. Jesus didn’t send anyone home hungry or unhealed. He had compassion on each and every person there. Jesus is able to do the same for you and for me, too. Philippians 4:19 tells me,

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Like those in the crowd that day who came to Him, Jesus will not send me away hungry when I come to Him. All I have to offer Him is faith as small as a mustard seed. But if I give it to Jesus, small as it is, like the boy’s lunch of bread and fish, Jesus will transform it into the abundance only He can give, just like He did the day He fed the five thousand plus crowd of people.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Thank You, Jesus, that You will never send me home hungry when I come to You, but You will instead continue the miracle of growing my mustard seed of faith in You till it overflows with the abundance You alone provide.

sincerely, Grace Day

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