Jesus teaches us two really important lessons in this passage. Firstly, Jesus has power to satisfy all our needs, both spiritual and physical and secondly, as followers, we need his power to help us serve others.
10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
In the passages prior to this, we see Jesus’ amazing power over nature, sickness, spirits and even death. Here we see the greatness of Jesus’ power again: The power to provide and satisfy in the face of overwhelming need. Jesus was followed by a large crowd. A crowd who had heard about his power. A crowd who wanted to know and experience his power. A crowd full of people who probably sought physical healing, but really, needed spiritual healing. Jesus recognised and addressed both the spiritual and physical needs of the crowd.
Despite most likely being tired, Jesus welcomes the crowd. As he teaches them about the kingdom of God and we see his power to feed them spiritually. After teaching them about God’s kingdom he then heals them, demonstrating his power to heal our physical bodies. Finally after all of that, he demonstrates his power to feed our physical bodies by turning just five loaves and two fish into enough to feed 5000. The thing is, God in his great plan not only created both our body and our spirit, but also redeems them—ultimately redeeming us through Jesus’ death on the cross.
The second thing we can learn from this passage is that while we often feel inadequate to meet the needs of others, God fills our inadequacies with his adequacies. When Jesus asks the disciples to feed the crowd, they focus on what they don’t have instead of what they have. So often we find ourselves tempted to believe that when faced with such great need, we have nothing to offer. We find ourselves saying, “I don’t have enough money to help all those people”, or “I don’t have enough time to help all those people”. But when we remember God’s power and come to him with our inadequacies he does what he did for his disciples and the crowd that day. He blesses. And it’s through his blessings that we are able to joyfully serve others and proclaim the true satisfaction only found in him.
Head: What are some other times that we see Jesus satisfying the physical and spiritual needs of people?
Heart: Do you trust God to satisfy your needs? Does the way that you give and serve others reflect that?
Hands: Reflect on ways that God has filled your inadequacies to help you better give to or serve others. Are there areas where you can rely more on God to push you further?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for all that you do to show us that you love us, care for us and bless us so abundantly. Thank you that through these miracles and ultimately Jesus’ death on the cross we are able to see the way you constantly provide and satisfy. Sorry for the times we rely on ourselves rather than you. Help us to be willing to give and serve, knowing that it is not through our strength but through yours that we are able to do all things. Amen.
A song to listen to: Only you can satisfy
Natalie Yong- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina