One of the few accounts covered by all four gospel writers, the feeding of the five thousand teems with significance, application, and encouragement for us today. When reading this passage, we could focus on the compassion Jesus had for the multitude and how they needed a teacher, so he taught them all day long. We could also focus on the implications of the work of Jesus providing bread from nothing, just like God did for the Israelites wandering in the desert. We could focus on the abundance of Christ’s provision as twelve very large baskets of bread and fish remained after feeding thousands of people. Instead, we will focus on the lesson Jesus gave to his disciples as he prepared them for his departure.
You Feed Them
Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.
full of meaning
you feed them
Jesus saw that the crowd gathered had no shepherd. In the same way the Israelites would have had no shepherd as Moses inched closer to death (Numbers 27:12–23), Jesus knew he would need to raise up leaders behind him before he departed. Just as Moses prepared Joshua to lead, Jesus would prepare the disciples. As the day grew nigh, the disciples expressed concern for the people’s food and lodging needs. They figured the best solution meant dispersing, but Jesus had other plans. We can imagine when Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the multitude of people, at least one of them rolled his eyes and another threw his hands up in exasperation. How can twelve poor men feed a small city? Yet, if the disciples had remembered the scriptures in 2 Kings 4:42–44, they would have remembered that God already supernaturally supplied food to feed the many.
participants in ministry
Rather than growing irritated with his disciples over their lack of understanding, Jesus included them in this miraculous event. After gathering the small portion they had, Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves and had the disciples distribute the meal. Jesus used his power to provide but welcomed his disciples to administer that provision to the people. Jesus, knowing he would leave the disciples soon, needed to teach them and ultimately us the model for ministry. God provides. We distribute. God uses his power. We rely on his strength. He shows us needs. We partner with him to meet them. While this story began with Jesus’s compassion on the multitude because they needed a shepherd, it ends with Jesus’s compassion on the disciples because they needed a teacher.
compassionate shepherd and teacher
In this brief miracle story, we see Jesus’s multifaceted compassion. He cared deeply for the masses of people who needed someone to guide them and minister to them, and he cared for his closest companions who needed someone to teach them to guide and minister to the others. God’s plan for ministry starts with his compassion and results in our benefit and inclusion.
Watch Session Five
Jesus Knows Our Hunger
In what ways is your life a reflection of the model offered in the Gospel of Luke? Where do you see God providing and using you to administer his provision?
Sign up for IF:Equip
Get the Daily Devotionals Emailed to You