Matthew 14:19-20 “And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. 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.”
This is a well-known miracle from Jesus’ life. Outside the events of Holy Week, it is the only story from his life that is included in all four gospels. None of them tell us how Jesus did the miracle, the process for multiplying the loaves and fish. Did the loaves grow back new parts in the disciples’ hands even as they tore pieces off and gave them to others? Did the basket from which this food came suddenly begin to produce new loaves and more fish as the first ones were taken out and given away? We don’t have the details.
But take note of these two facts: First, everyone ate and was satisfied. Everyone got more than a taste. They got all they wanted. They all ate until they didn’t want anymore. When God does his work, he doesn’t settle for some second rate, half-baked, incomplete conclusion to the project. When he atones for the sins of the world, Jesus suffers on the cross until he can say, “It is finished.” Here, he made sure everyone got enough.
Actually, there was more than enough. The second thing to note is that the disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftovers, one for each of them. That was far more than they started with. In the end the Lord took what they gave, did his work, and then returned more to his people than they had given him.
The Lord satisfied the needs of his people. The Lord far exceeded the needs of his people. Are the lessons for you and me hard to see? If it seems to us that we live in a time when God is no longer providing for us in such miraculous ways, in one sense we might be right. We have no promise that God is going to make the food grow in our cupboards. But do we have any need for such a thing? Don’t we live in a time in which God has blessed us with incredible plenty? How likely are most of us to run into such a situation where we are part of a crowd of thousands scrambling for something to eat?
I remember reading a story of a lady from Uganda, standing up in the middle of a worship service and asking the congregation to join her in thanking God for giving her shoes! She was overcome with appreciation. I can’t remember anyone from my church ever asking me to include a prayer of thanksgiving in the service because the Lord had finally given them shoes.
Maybe we don’t think of food that is more than enough, and our clothes that are more than enough, and our shelter that is more than enough, as a miracle like the feeding of the 5000. But the same power of the same God makes it so. He doesn’t promise us a miracle, but every day we see the fulfillment of this promise: “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”