ONE PARTY TO THE NEXT
Loving Lord, I pray for strength for today to think clearly, serve creatively, and to follow you consistently.
Read Matthew 14:13–21
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 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.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Jesus, thou art all compassion, / pure, unbounded love thou art’.1
Having focused on the impact of Jesus’ message of the kingdom of heaven on his hometown and then Herod, Matthew moves our gaze towards the masses. Having just learned of the death of his cousin in a manner that warns what lies ahead for him, Jesus retreats to find a quiet place. However, as often happened, the crowds swarm to him. What is your reaction when plans for solitude backfire? Contrary to how I’d have reacted, Jesus responds with compassion. The sorrow that he understandably would have felt on the death of his cousin is now directed towards the masses.
What is the miracle here? While feeding such a mass gathering from a child’s packed lunch2 is truly remarkable, the next day they’d be hungry again. Notwithstanding that the sick are healed before the buffet of bread and fish with leftovers, is there something even more extraordinary happening? In response to the disciples’ understandable request of Jesus for a solution to the needs of the people, he instructs, ‘You give them something to eat’ (v 16). That Jesus invites us to be participants in his ministry is astonishing. It’s not that he needs us, but rather that he chooses to release divine resources to supply what you and I require to feed those around us. Note the contrast in the two meals thus far in Matthew 14.
Saturday we considered the drunken party hosted by Herod that was consumed by treachery, evil and malice. Today, the feast Jesus hosted is filled with life, hope and divine provision. Finally, the verbs used here by Matthew to describe the breaking of bread by Jesus are those later used in the account of the Last Supper.3 This meal by the shore in Galilee satisfied physical hunger and gives a wonderful foretaste of the feast to come which will satisfy our spiritual hunger.
‘Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.’4
Lord Jesus, you have wonderfully provided for me. I thank you that my physical and spiritual needs have been met. My heart is overflowing with thanksgiving to you.
1 Charles Wesley, 1707–88, ‘Love divine’ 2 John 6:9 3 Matt 26:26 4 Song 2:4
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2024 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.