Matthew 14:13-21 (ESV)
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
After Jesus learned about the death of John the Baptist, he wanted to be alone. As Matthew’s gospel records, from this point on Jesus focused on instructing his disciples, having been rejected by the nation. Nevertheless, the people tracked Jesus down and caught up to him. As much as Jesus and the disciples wanted to be alone, the people wanted to find him. Jesus had compassion on the crowd and healed the sick. When the afternoon came to a close, the disciples asked Jesus to send the people away so they could find something to eat since they were in a remote place. Strangely, Jesus says in verse 16, “You give them something to eat.” Now, how could the disciples possibly feed this crowd? They brought all the food they had to Jesus: five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus took the food, prayed to God, and a miracle took place. From that small amount, 5,000 men, plus women and children, or about 15 to 20,000 people ate until they were full (v. 21). This miracle is known as “the Feeding of the Five Thousand” and is the only miracle recorded in all four of the gospels. Jesus used this event to show his disciples that just as he fed people, they would feed people too.
We have to remember how difficult it was for these people to get food. They couldn’t just drive through McDonald’s on the way home. They needed to eat! Just as this crowd needed physical food, the disciples would soon provide people with necessary spiritual food after Jesus’ departure. The true source of the bread and fish for the thousands and thousands present was Jesus, and the source of spiritual food in the future would continue to be Jesus. Although the disciples didn’t see how God would provide, they were still called to move out in faith and do what Jesus asked of them. Jesus taught the disciples to take their eyes off the apparent hopelessness of the situation and instead step up to see what they could do. Is God asking you to meet a spiritual need that you can’t see a way to meet? Jesus can do great things through even the smallest of resources. When God calls you to bring physical supplies, or more importantly, the gospel to those around you, ask him to take whatever you have to offer, and expect him to multiply it to carry out his purpose today.