Today’s reading: Luke 8-9.
Along with the sermon on the mount, the feeding of the 5,000 ranks as one of the best known events of Jesus’ life. So much has already been said about this miracle. I decided to choose some of the best writings on this topic and let them speak for themselves.
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.” 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.” (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. 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 set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Luke 9:12-17
John MacArthur on God’s use of small things
Begin with your own, available resources. Even though it is little, trust God to make it much. As the song says, little becomes much when it is placed in the Master’s hand. It’s amazing when you think you have nothing and you wind up feeding thousands. God can use small things; He used the tear of a baby to move the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter. He used a shepherd’s stick to work mighty miracles in Egypt. He used a sling and a stone to conquer a nation. He used the little girl to lead Naaman to Elisha. He used a widow with a little meal to sustain a prophet. He used a little child to teach His disciples the meaning of humility and salvation. He used Balaam’s donkey to preach His truth, and the jawbone of another donkey to slay 1,000 men. He can use a small thing for a great end. Jesus likes to have the weak; that way, when things happen, we know it’s His power. – John MacArthur
John Piper on the point of making bread
So what is Jesus doing in this miracle of taking five loaves and a few fish and feeding over 5,000 people? He is opening a window on who he is. He is manifesting his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (John 1:14). And he is opening this window on his glory not that we might get excited about how useful he might be in getting what we already wanted, but that we might see that he himself is better than anything we ever wanted. The point of making bread, as it were, out of nothing—like God making manna—is that the Son of God has come into the world not to give you bread, but to be your bread. And, since we are all sinners and do not deserve this bread, how will he give it to us? “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51). When he gives his flesh on the cross, he becomes bread—all-nourishing, all-satisfying bread—for sinners who believe. – John Piper
Matthew Henry on God’s provision
It is the only miracle of our Saviour’s that is recorded by all the four evangelists. Let us only observe out of it, 1. Those who diligently attend upon Christ in the way of duty, and therein deny or expose themselves, or are made to forget themselves and their outward conveniences by their zeal for God’s house, are taken under his particular care, and may depend upon Jehovah-jireh—The Lord will provide. He will not see those that fear him, and serve him faithfully, want any good thing. 2. Our Lord Jesus was of a free and generous spirit. His disciples said, Send them away, that they may get victuals; but Christ said, “No, give ye them to eat; let what we have go as far as it will reach, and they are welcome to it.’’ Thus he has taught both ministers and Christians to use hospitality without grudging, 1 Pt. 4:9 . Those that have but a little, let them do what they can with that little, and that is the way to make it more. There is that scatters, and yet increases. 6. The blessing of Christ will make a little go a great way. The little that the righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked, a dinner of herbs better than a stalled ox. 7. Those whom Christ feeds he fills; to whom he gives, he gives enough; as there is in him enough for all, so there is enough for each. He replenishes every hungry soul, abundantly satisfies it with the goodness of his house. Here were fragments taken up, to assure us that in our Father’s house there is bread enough, and to spare. We are not straitened, or stinted, in him. – Matthew Henry
Charles Spurgeon on how Jesus handles our emergencies
If the disciples had considered the miracle of the loaves they would have observed that Christ is grand at emergencies. When there were five thousand people to be fed and no towns and villages near enough to supply them with bread, so that the people must faint by the way ere they could reach the markets, then Christ was ready, full-handed in time of scarcity, prompt to dispense his liberality, able to meet the emergency so perfectly, that the people must have been very thankful that such an emergency had arisen, and no doubt often wished that they could have been in such a strait again if they could have had the Lord near to bring them out of it. Had they considered the miracle of the loaves the disciples would have known that Christ only is grand at emergencies, but that he displays his power spontaneously, without need of pressing or even prompting. Before anybody else had cared for the multitude he began enquiring about the state of the stores from which the famishing must be fed. He it was who thought of the way of feeding them, it was a design invented and originated by himself. His followers had looked at their little store of bread and fish and given up the task as hopeless; but Jesus, altogether unembarrassed, and in no perplexity, had already considered how he would banquet the thousands and make the fainting sing for joy. The Lord of Hosts needed no entreaty to become the host of hosts of hungry men. Remembering this, the disciples in their new distress should have said within themselves, “Now will he display his power. We have scarcely need to cry to him, for before we call he will answer; and while the emergency is yet pressing upon our minds he will hear.” But they forgot what he had done on that occasion, and therefore they fell into distrust as to their new trial. Beloved, is not this a very common fault with us? Do we not too oft forget what the Lord has done for us in times past? – Charles Spurgeon
Martin Luther on the faith lesson in the feeding of the 5,000
In today’s Gospel Christ gives us another lesson in faith, that we should not be overanxious about our daily bread and our temporal existence, and stirs us up by means of a miracle; as though to say by his act what he says by his words in Matthew 6,33: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” For here we see, since the people followed Christ for the sake of God’s Word and the signs, and thus sought the Kingdom of God, he did not forsake them but richly fed them. He hereby also shows that, rather than those who seek the Kingdom of God should suffer need, the grass in the desert would become wheat, or a crumb of bread would be turned into a thousand loaves; or a morsel of bread would feed as many people and just as satisfactorily as a thousand loaves; in order that the words in Matthew 4,4 might stand firm, that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” And to confirm these words Christ is the first to be concerned about the people, as to what they should eat, and asks Philip, before they complain or ask him; so that we may indeed let him care for us, remembering that he cares more and sooner for us than we do for ourselves. – Martin Luther