“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14)”
This passage from the Gospel of Matthew is referenced just before the main story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. It is a text that speaks to Jesus’ first and primary purpose while present on earth – to bring healing and extend compassion to the people. While the people in the end needed physical nourishment, Jesus provides a deeper nourishment at the beginning, when he first encounters the people. This nourishment is that of compassion and love.
“As everyone approached, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it is already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat’ (Matthew 14:15-16)”
When it came to providing any form of physical nourishment, the disciples did not want anything to do with trying to feed the large crowd which had gathered. However, Jesus insisted that the crowd stay and that in some way, the disciples were to provide food for the people.
“‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish, they answered’ (Matthew 14:17)”
Perhaps the hesitancy of the disciples was because they only had a small quantity of food. How would that feed all the people who had gathered?
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left (Matthew 14:20)”
In the end, Jesus revealed to the disciples and all who had gathered that there was in fact enough, and even plenty leftover.
It can be very easy to take the passages surrounding the feeding of the 5,000 story for granted. However, I encourage you to see the progression and the promises revealed. Jesus first offers us compassion and love for our brokenness. This is centered around our spiritual nourishment. Jesus desires for us to experience a connection with him as one who can provide healing and does so not out of personal gain, but true love for us as God’s children.
Jesus then provides physical nourishment through the bread and fish. While the disciples had a proper earthly perception, they underestimated what God through Jesus Christ would be able to do for the people. We, too, may lack a full understanding of how the small things we are able to offer may just be sufficient. We may even have a sense that what we need is far greater than what God is able to provide for us. In the end, though, the grace given to us and the earthly provisions all come to us out of an abundance which God desires for us.
May we rest in the gifts bestowed upon us each day. May we experience God’s abundant love and seek to share it with others. May we trust that all that truly satisfies is possible through God.