The story of the feeding of the 5000 is a backstage story.
Many are content to stay in the crowd. The crowd participates in a miracle, they just don’t know it. Life is a miracle. Breath is a miracle. The abundance of growing food is a miracle. The protection of God is a miracle. Blessings we don’t deserve are in abundant supply everyday, every moment. Most people deny it’s God at all: it’s science, it’s evolution, it’s good luck, it just is. Like the person who wanted to know why we waste so much space with farmland in our country ~ why don’t they just go to the store and buy their food like everyone else! The entire world receives the constant abundant miraculous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ everyday, every moment ~ they just don’t know it. They have no curiosity to look behind the curtain because it just is.
Some people are perhaps afraid to look behind the curtain of faith because they are afraid they might discover the wizard is really a plump middle aged man and it’s all a trick. The fear is that Jesus is not who he says he is, the Lord is not everything that really faithful people say he is. Rather than risk disappointment it is much safer to stay in the crowd, eat the fish and the bread and if you think about it all, wonder who thought ahead to bring all this food and who paid for it and where did it come from, but you don’t really want to know all the details.
Some people are afraid to look behind the curtain of faith because they are afraid Jesus might be exactly who he says he is! ~ that would demand that you change who you are, that you respond, that you submit yourself to the Lord. Going backstage to see more of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the challenge of this most famous miracle of Jesus. The miracle of the feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15).. In addition there is another similar miracle recorded two more times, the miracle of the feeding of 4000 (Matt 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-10). This is an important miracle. The towering lesson is unmistakable: God Provides More Than Enough. The God of abundance. More than enough. You will receive His abundance! The only question is which side of the curtain are you going to experience the abundance of God?:
- The crowd that ate till they were satisfied and didn’t know it was a miracle?
- Or the disciples that were forced to wrestle with their own inadequacy and face their lack of ability.
Are you curious about Christ? Miracles are life giving, but to fully appreciate miracles, you must get to know the miracle worker and going behind the curtain to see how he makes decisions, learn of his character. Miracles don’t just happen ~ they are provided by the generosity of God who is the God of more than enough.
Let’s go backstage. Backstage is where you discover the depth of Jesus, the miracle of abundance that is hidden from the crowd.
The place the feeding of the 5000 miraculously unfolds is significant: “a remote place” (Luke 9:12). The crowd follows Jesus into the wilderness. The wilderness is the place of vulnerability, the place of weakness, need and protection. It is also the place of transformation. The feeding of the 5000 is a fulfillment of the great words prophesied by Isaiah 100’s of years earlier: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will burst into bloom. It will rejoice greatly and shout for joy” (Is. 35:1-2).
The Lord will meet you in your weakness, in the wilderness of your life. Those who convince themselves they can be self-sufficient and strong have no sense of need to go to the Lord. It it not until we are finally broken, in the wilderness, that our curiosity is peaked and we dare to look behind the curtain to see the depth of Jesus compassion and power. Only people who know they are in need find the Lord. One person said it this way: Most of us aren’t too weak to serve the Lord. We’re too strong, or at least we think we are. The Lord does not want our adequacy; He wants our inadequacy so that He can supply the adequacy. He puts His treasure in our weak, earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power is clearly from Him, not from us (2 Cor. 4:7). (unknown)
Jesus is with you in the wilderness, when you have no other answers. The crowd is good ~ they receive the miracle, they receive healing and hear the word, but resolve to go deeper, and look behind the curtain, become a disciple of Christ, go beyond the miracle and get to know the miracle worker.
The disciples and Jesus both see the problem. The day is getting late and the crowd is getting hungry. It’s the solution that is debated: “send them away to go find their own food” is the disciples answer. That’s a reasonable thought! As the disciples and Jesus jostle behind the scenes, Jesus clearly wants to demonstrate to the disciples he is the Lord of abundance. Jesus takes control and has the disciples organize the crowd into groups in order to efficiently distribute the food, and he takes the inadequate provisions of two fish and five loaves of bread, he gives thanks, and breaks the bread.
The disciples don’t have enough to feed the crowd. As a Christ follower, get used to not having enough, not enough resources, not enough strength, not enough of much of anything. This is what you find behind the curtain. The Lord takes your inadequacy and creates a miracle. I love the way T.D. Jakes describes what happens:
Jesus takes the bread and fish “…and blessed it…he is blessing something that is not enough. Until you can be thankful for something that is not enough, then, what you have cannot be multiplied into what is more than enough. We are certain he had 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread when he blessed it. As he broke it, that’s where we lose count. You understand then, that the blessing is in the breaking. That which refuses to be broken, refuses to be blessed. It is the breaking of life that produces the blessing of life.” – T.D. Jakes
God can and will provide beyond your means. He’ll use you in ways beyond your ability. Instead of saying “I can’t…I don’t have time…I don’t have the ability…” say “I can’t but God can.” Until you can be thankful for something that is not enough, then, what you have cannot be multiplied into what is more than enough. God provides more than enough.
Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread and the fish. Jesus breaks. “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” (Vance Havner.) To look behind the curtain and see Jesus is to realize that he breaks things. In the blessing and brokenness go together. In every life that God has ever used God breaks people. It’s the only way to unlearn the patterns of our self-reliant ways. Jacob was broken when he wrestled with an angel and had his hip crippled. David came under conviction from the sins of his abusive power. Peter wept when he finally had his eyes open to the truth that he betrayed the Lord. This is a reason it is so hard to look behind the curtain to the depths of Jesus, because he just may shatter the arrogant, take down the prideful, break those who are comfortable and content.
Move apart from the crowd and dare to look behind the curtain when you at last have a sense of your own need. This is what it means to be a Jesus follower. Know this: whatever you have to offer is not enough, yet we are to give thanks for that which is not enough. Jesus breaks. And out of the blessing of brokenness is birthed not only enough, but more than enough! READ Luke 9:17. Everyone had enough. They even had leftovers! No one went hungry. Inadequacy + brokenness = more than enough. Jesus would not make a very good math teacher because the formula simply does not add up! Two fish + five loaves of bread feeds 5000 families plus twelve baskets of leftovers. I’ve gotta believe that the twelve baskets is even a bit of a subtle joke/message to the twelve disciples. “you tried to tell me there was not enough food to go around” Jesus is saying to the twelve, tell you what I’m gonna do ~ take what is not enough, bless it and break it, and not only will I feed the 5000 families, but there will be a basket of food leftover for every one of you, too.”
“all ate and were satisfied.” When you dare to look behind the curtain at the deeper things of Jesus, his compassion, his miracles, his desires, out of the depth of your own poverty, Jesus blesses, he breaks, and he creates abundance. The world is changed, you are changed, and the result is satisfaction. The process may be painful, it takes courage to go deeper with the Lord and look backstage, but the result will be an incredible rightness, a depth of understand, acceptance, satisfaction.
The Lord Jesus Christ provides more than enough. It’s a blessing to be a part of the crowd and receive the miracles of God whether you realize it or not, but it’s better to dare to get to know the depths of Jesus and be in awe of the transformation of the wilderness into a place of abundance. Amen.