I hope you are as excited as I am to take some time to really dig into the miracles that Jesus performed in His lifetime. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first two parts to this study, I invite you to read Part 1 and Part 2 to get caught up.
Today, we will look into the only miracle that Jesus performed that is accounted for in all four Gospels. The fact that it is addressed in all four accounts tells me that all four Apostles believed this story to be important for us to hear. I think it is relevant to know that the events leading up to this Scripture are important and they give us great insight into Jesus’ heart as this story unfolds and also His purposes for the miracle we are about to see!
In Mark 6, we saw Jesus and His disciples travel back to His hometown and Jesus began to teach in the synagogue. People around Him immediately began to question His wisdom and authority, and word had spread quickly about the miracles people were witnessing. We heard that Jesus was scorned by His own people, in His own community. In Mark 6:4-6 (NIV), Jesus said to those who were questioning Him:
A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
We then saw Jesus commission His disciples to go out and spread His message. To teach the Good News from village to village. To spread the Gospel. To drive out evil spirits and anoint the sick.
In Matthew 10:5-8 (NIV), Jesus sent off His disciples with these words:
Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
And then finally, Jesus heard the horrible news that His friend and family member John the Baptist had been killed by King Herod. In Matthew 14, we heard that John’s disciples came and took his body after he was killed and that they buried him. After his burial, they went and told Jesus that he had been killed.
So, as we are starting off in this study, we see Jesus deep in emotion. He has just been shunned by His own people and sent His disciples to go out on mission to spread the Gospel. And He has just received word that his friend and family member, John the Baptist, was beheaded. We will pick it up here as He is overwhelmed with emotion from all the events leading up to now and this sets the stage for the next miracle.
In Matthew 14:13 (NIV), Scripture says:
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”
The book of Mark tells us that Jesus said to the disciples:
Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mk 6:31 (NIV)
All of this shows how Jesus intended for time alone. Time to rest. Time to pray. And time to grieve.
But Scripture tells us that this time in solitude did not last long and was interrupted. Matthew 14:13 (NIV) says that as the large groups of people heard that Jesus had retreated by Himself, “the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.”
I don’t know about you, but my initial reaction when I want time alone and get interrupted, is I am not very Christ-like. I get irritated and impatient.
But not Jesus.
He could have taken His disciples and retreated further up the mountain away from the growing crowd. But He didn’t. He could have gotten irritated and ran low on patience. But He didn’t. We see exactly WHO Jesus is. His character and how He relates to those around Him.
JESUS HAS COMPASSION FOR US
Compassion is directly at the heart of who Jesus is. Who God is. And we see that front and center here as Jesus had retreated in order to find time alone but was met by those who needed Him. He didn’t push them away, but instead had compassion for them.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Mt 14:14 (NIV)
I love the description we find in the book of Mark referencing the same story. It says:
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began teaching them many things.” Mk 6:34 (NIV)
The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus welcomed them and spoke to the crowd about the Kingdom of God, healing those who were sick. I looked up the definition of compassion, and Dictionary.com defines it as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
Compassion may be difficult for us to show. Sometimes we might feel like the other person doesn’t deserve our compassion.
But it is important that we remember that Jesus is the best example for us to follow when it comes to true compassion. Not only did Jesus see those who were suffering and in pain and then have compassion on them, He then went to the next step and healed them. If we think for a minute, Jesus really showed the ultimate compassion for all of us when He died on the cross.
I can think of so many times when things were not going as I wanted in my life and the first thing I would do is doubt God’s love for me. Doubt the fact that He even cared or that He had compassion for my circumstances. I doubted His presence in my life. I doubted all of it.
Thankfully, as my faith has grown, that has all changed. I am now able to see God’s hand in every little detail in my life. I can see His care and compassion over my life.
I gathered some wonderful Scripture verses that will help remind us how God cares and is filled with compassion for us.
- And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Ex 33:19 (NIV)
- Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Is 30:18 (NIV)
- They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” Is 49:10 (NIV)
- Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Is 54:10 (NIV)
- The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” Ps 116:5 (NIV)
JESUS TESTS HIS DISCIPLES
As the night went on, Jesus continued preaching and healing the sick. It began to get late and the disciples approached Jesus and told Him to send the crowds away so that they could go and get some food.
We see the disciples had some concern for the crowd as they were worried about their hunger. Unfortunately, their solution was to send the people away. In Matthew 14:16 (NIV), Jesus responds to the disciples by saying:
They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
Jesus puts His disciples to the test. Do they really understand that He is the Messiah? Do they not remember that God provided bread for the Israelites as they traveled out of Egypt in Exodus 16?
As the Israelites complained of starvation to Moses and grumbled tirelessly against God, He responded to Moses and said:
I will rain down bread from heaven for you.” Ex 16:4 (NIV)
He then goes on to remind Moses and the people of His sovereignty by saying:
In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him.” Ex 16:6-7 (NIV)
And friends, that same Sovereign God who provided water in Kadesh as Moses struck the rock in Numbers 20:11 (NIV), sees our distress. God saw that the people had no water and He met their needs.
See, God always comes through.
The LORD says to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” Num 20:7-8 (NIV)
God provided food when there was no more for the widow and her son at Zarephath in 1st Kings 18. As we remember back to the stories of Elijah and his miracle in providing for the widow, we can be reminded again how God comes through. She had very little food for her and her child and when Elijah asked her to make him some food, she simply said yes. We then heard Elijah turn to God to meet their needs:
For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.” 1 Kg 17:14 (NIV)
It is easy at times for us to see a need and get overwhelmed at its vastness, then give up.
Can you think of a time when, like Moses, you saw a need that was so great, and you felt like giving up?
I know I can.
But friends, our God is a God of the miraculous. Turn your needs over to Him and watch Him work miracles!
JESUS BLESSES AND MULTIPLIES
Back to our story…
Jesus had just told the disciples to feed the crowd. Next, we hear the disciples worrying about the extent of the need. They only see the amount of people present and vastness of the need in feeding them. What they fail to trust is that Jesus is present.
God will meet the need, whatever it may be. No matter how impossible and out of reach it seems.
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” Mk 6:37 (NIV)
Well, if we are grading the disciples, I don’t think they would get a passing grade. Fortunately for them, Jesus is in the game of grace. He immediately asks them how many loaves they do have, and they answer five loaves of bread and two fish.
Jesus patiently said in Matthew 14, “Bring them here to me,” and then He told the disciples to have the people sit in groups of fifty. Jesus established order among the chaos.
Isn’t that what He does in our lives, too?
He brings order to chaos.
Now, remember there were many more people present than just the 5,000 because, as Scripture said, the 5,000 counted only the men when in fact most of those men probably had a wife and some children… so that number may have been upward of 20,000 people who were there to witness this miracle.
Then we see Jesus begin to meet the needs of the people.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Mt 14:19-20 (NIV)
Jesus overcame the impossible.
And He included His disciples in helping meet the needs as well. Just like He includes us, as followers of Jesus, to meet the needs of those around us as well. He passes that on to us. He calls on us to be His hands and feet, serving those around us.
Sometimes we see the vastness of the needs and we want to give up, just like the disciples. But that is not what Jesus would do. He calls us to more. And He will equip us when we entrust those things to Him.
He expects us to take our resources, whatever they might be… no matter how small they may be in our minds, and give them to Him. We place them in His hands to do with as He wishes, giving Him complete control to do His will. Jesus, in turn, will bless them and place them back in our hands, MULTIPLIED, more powerful than we could have ever imagined.
A few points to remember throughout this lesson are:
- God sees our needs and has compassion for us. Scripture repeatedly reminds us of this.
- God allows situations that may seem impossible in order to bring about greater faith, perseverance and trust in Him. He is always waiting with grace if we fail.
- There are always needs that are greater than the resources that we have. It is important to remember that any resource we have, when taken directly to Jesus, will be blessed, multiplied and returned to us to use and bless others with.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for loving us and having compassion on us. We pray to see circumstances where we can be more like Jesus and have greater compassion for those around us. We know that just as you tested your disciples, you will allow difficulty in our lives. Help us to turn to you in those times. To grow in our faith and trust in you. Thank you for being our Great Provider. Remind us that everything we have belongs to you and is really a gift from you. I pray we will be able to fully trust You to meet our needs, whatever they might be. Thank you for your provision, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Looking to find Part 1? You can find it here.
Or Part 2? You can find it here.