From: Su Min
Subject: Feed Four Thousand
Thursday 5th December 1996
Epistle to The CyberChurch
Dearly Beloved: I will rejoice in the Lord
I will be joyful in God my saviour
The sovereign Lord is my strength
He makes my feet like the feet of deer
He enables me to go on the heights
TEXT Today we look at Matthew_15:32-39_and Mark_8:1-10.
CONTEXTJesus has spent three days ministering to a great multitude in a remote place, healing all manner of sick. He sees that they have run out of food and knows that there are no readily available supplies. He has compassion for the people. He prepares to meet their needs. Jesus chooses to use his disciples' meagre supplies for the feeding of 4000, thereby teaching us an important spiritual truth: God will use us to minister to the world: he will take our meagre resources and multiply them for His glory.
DECLARATIONJesus called His disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people. They have been with me for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way." (Matthew_15:32)
Jesus called His disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people." Jesus recognises that the people are without food. He feels for them with a passion that grips Him inside. He declares "I have compassion for these people." and with that declaration was the implication that He was going to do something about it.
This declaration of compassion was a declaration of love that was going to be put into action.
Not just a wishy washy feeling of pity, “I wish you well", sort of thing.
No, Jesus loved them, and Jesus loves us, with a love that would propel Him to the cross. Indeed, greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.... (John_15:13)
HUMAN RESPONSEHis disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?" (Matthew_15:33)
Jesus had only recently fed a crowd of 5000 men, women and children beside, with 5 loaves and two fish, taking the meagre resources of the disciples, blessing them, and passing them back through his disciples to meet the needs of the multitude (Matthew_14:13-21). Were the disciples of such short memory? Or is it that they doubted Jesus?. It seems to me that Jesus could have done this miraculous act even more than these 2 occasions (Matt 14 & Matt 15). Why then did His disciples answer, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?"
It seems to me that perhaps the disciples not only had short memory, but also tunnel vision, and small hearts.
Short memory: they forgot the recent similar situation, and how Jesus resolved it.
Tunnel vision: they looked at the immediate physical problem, no food, no supply, and did not look beyond, to God the Father who provides all our needs.
Small hearts: they did not believe that the minimal resources within their own hands could be multiplied and magnified to meet the needs of the multitude, by the grace of God.
JESUS ASKS"How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked (Matthew_15:34a)
Jesus must have well known how little they had. But were they willing to offer their inadequacies to God? Were they willing to do all they could, little as it was, to meet the needs of the great crowd? And when our Lord asks you, dearly beloved, are you willing to do all you can, little as it may be, to meet the needs of the wanting? "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asks you....
THE DISCIPLES REPLY"Seven", they replied, "and a few small fish". (Matthew_15:34b)
Seven loaves divided amongst 4000 men? That works out to one loaf to every 571 men: women and children besides.
But God does not do sums the way we do sums.
Seven loaves. Not very much. Yet seven is oft used to describe the "perfect" number.
It seems to me that 9 loaves, 5 loaves, 3 loaves, 13 loaves, whatever, by any standard was far too small to feed the multitude. Yet Jesus chose to accept what the disciples could bring to him, even though it was but seven loaves and a few small fish.
THE MIRACLEHe told the crowd to sit on the ground. (Matthew_15:35) Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. (Matthew_15:36) They all ate and were satisfied. Afterwards the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (Matthew_15:37) The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides woman and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan (Matthew_15:39)
Mini-lessons: Look at sequence of the ACTION words in the miracle.
Mini-lesson 1)He TOLD the crowd to sit. Jesus gives instructions, commands. It would be difficult to distribute food to a crowd that was milling about. In telling them to sit, Jesus facilitates the distribution of the supplies.
Been busy lately? Running around, so much to do? Perhaps Jesus is speaking to you. Telling you. Sit. Stop wandering around aimlessly. Stop the purposeful busyness. Come. Sit down by the feet of Jesus. He will meet your needs.
Mini-lesson 2)Then He TOOK the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had GIVEN thanks, He BROKE them and GAVE them to the disciples, and they IN TURN to the people
Jesus TOOK the seven loaves and the fish, Jesus accepted the little that the disciples had to give,
And when we are called to minister to the crowd, the alien, the oppressed, the widow, the orphan, how will we respond?
Will we cling on to our riches? Will we splutter about our inadequacies? Or will we come forth in faith, and lay at Jesus’ feet our seven loaves, our few fish, our meagre talents, our barely enough time squeezed out of our busy busy schedule?
Mini-lesson 3)Jesus GAVE thanks, Giving thanks for food. Something one may tend to omit. Or do perfunctorily. Or do ritually. Or do without heart or soul. Words muttered by the mouth without going through the heart... As oft as we eat, we should give thanks. Not just "say grace", but from the innermost being, give our thanks to God who supplies all our needs, and supplies them in abundance.
Mini-lesson 4)Jesus gave thanks and BROKE the loaves and fish There is something about this action that embodies the miracle. It seems to me in the breaking, there is something about the total sacrifice, as in the rendering apart of the loaf: it will be no more. We give totally. We do not expect it to be returned back.
Sometimes it is US that has to be broken. We the giver, may be too stiff necked. Too rigid in theology and self righteousness. Too high and mighty to be able to give in humble submission. Perhaps it is us that the Master needs to take and break. Think about it, dearly beloved....
Mini-lesson 5)Jesus gave thanks and broke the loaves and fish and redistributed the blessed food, through the hands of the disciples to the crowd.
BROKE the loaves and fish and
GAVE them to the disciples,
and they IN TURN to the people.
Jesus chose to use the hands of His disciples as His hands to reach out to the multitude. Think about it: We are His servants, His saints, our hands are His hands to be used by Our Lord to reach out to meet the needs of the flock.
Mini-lesson 6)They all ate and were satisfied. Afterwards the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
They ALL ate and were SATISFIED.
It was not just some of them who ate. All of them ate. And they ate till they were satisfied.
What kind of man is this? Who knows the needs of every one? And not only does he know the individual needs, but He can meet each one, at their very point of need. Drink, and you will never thirst again. I am the Bread of life. Eat and be satisfied. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
...Afterwards the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. So plenteous was the supply. This is the level of bountiful blessings that God wishes to pour upon us.
"See if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it" (Malachi_3:10b)
CLOSING PRAYERAbba, Father, thank you for the lesson today.
We praise you Father for the many miracles that Jesus performed.
We thank you Mighty God, that Jesus will take the little that we have, bless it break it, then use us to distribute it to the world: that it will be plentiful, it will fully supply their needs, and there will be plenty left over. Jehovah Jireh we praise Your blessed name. In the name of Jesus.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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