You’re familiar with it, probably know it by heart. The Feeding of the 5000. Jesus takes pity on the multitude and blesses five loaves and two fish, making them multiply into thousands, for thousands.
Here are three lessons we may have missed from that feeding. I’m looking at Luke’s account in 9:10-17.
#1. Another’s problem is my opportunity.
The problem: no food for such a large number of people. My opportunity: feeding them. We’re ready to send people away, it’s their problem, not mine, but the Lord wants us to see that this is our opportunity to serve and show compassion.
2. My lack is the Lord’s resource.
When we realize that we don’t have the means to do it, the Lord comes in to save the day. Similar to Paul’s statement that when we are weak, then we are strong (2 Cor. 12). Those who were sent out with nothing (9:1ff) still needed to learn that from nothing the Lord creates wonders and performs his will.
We start counting our resources and always come up short. We forget that the Lord doesn’t count as man does, be it time (1000/1) or talents or tables.
3. The Lord’s order is my mandate.
It’s no coincidence that this story is surrounded by the sending of the 12 and of the 72. The disciples don’t sit back while Jesus feeds the multitude. “You feed them,” he orders. “Make them sit down.” It’s the Twelve who distribute, and take up baskets afterwards. The Lord ministers to the masses through his disciples.
Luke teaches the same lesson in Acts 8 (Phillip to Eunuch), 9 (Ananias to Saul) and 10 (Peter to Cornelius). Our neighbors won’t be saved until we go to them.
A Brazilian colleague used to say that the miracles are parables, too. By that he meant that the miracles point to spiritual truths. And the Feeding of the 5000 has twelve baskets full of them!