When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” – Matthew 14:15-17 (AMP)
People are hungry
Matthew 14 recounts how a large crowd of people followed Jesus into the desert to listen to him talk about God’s kingdom. At some point, the disciples began to worry; the people would be hungry and thirsty, and it was getting darker and darker… a bit like our 21st century world today. Everyday we are bombarded with news of wars, terrorism, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, disease, abuse, poverty and violence on the streets, in schools and in homes. It’s getting darker and darker out there and people are hungry and thirsty for truth… for something meaningful to believe in. The challenge for us Christians is that we know the truth (Jesus) and we know that God has called us to shine a light in the darkness (Matthew 5:16), but, how could the little we bring possibly have an impact in this ‘multitude’ of issues?
God wants us to feed them
Faced with very limited resources and over 5000 hungry people, the disciples came up with what would seem a very logical suggestion – they asked Jesus to send the people away to find food for themselves. The problem was that the people did not know where they were or where to go; how would they find food for themselves? How can the people around us find the truth of God’s love if we don’t tell them or show them (Romans 10:14)? Jesus is saying to us today – “Don’t send them away, you feed them”.
Give the little you have
Feed them? How? All the disciples had was five loaves and two small fish; barely enough to feed one person, let alone a multitude. Perhaps that is how we feel about our talents, our resources or even our knowledge of God. Perhaps we feel we’re not ready or don’t know enough. However, Jesus is saying… “bring them to me”. He can use the little we have to do mighty things but only if we give it to him. We must remember that in God’s service, our greatest ability is our availability.
The miracle of multiplication
When we give what we have to the Lord, he’ll do the same as he did with the five loaves and two fish. He’ll bless it – no matter how little it is. He’ll break it – like an elite athlete, God uses challenges to train and refine us for his work. He’ll give it back to us – Jesus isn’t going to come and sing, write or feed the poor for us, our gifts are ours to use for the glory of God. We feed the people – this is when we see the miracle of multiplication. When we step out in faith and begin to reach out to the world around us, God multiplies what we give, and he does exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ever ask or think (Eph 3:20).
Now that’s how you feed a multitude!