Compassionate provision

Compassionate provision

They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat! Matthew 14:16

John 6:1-13

 1 After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee.

 2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.

 3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him.

 5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”

 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

 7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

 8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up.

 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

 10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.)

 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.

 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.”

 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

Lost was an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, over six seasons, with a total of 121 episodes. The show included elements of supernatural and science fiction. It follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial jet airliner flying between Sydney and Los Angeles. They are stranded on a mysterious island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean.

The survivors have to work together to survive on this seemingly deserted tropical island. It left many of its viewers dumbfounded and scratching their heads. It was convoluted and had lots of twists and turns. But ultimately it boiled down to a very simple plot: it was about people who were lost searching for answers. Upon reflection, that is the background against which the Scriptures are set.

Wherever the Lord Jesus Christ went, He was thronged by large crowds of people. As the God-man, His humanity was exactly the same as ours. He grew tired, hungry, weary, and needed alone time with the Father.

In this story, the Lord Jesus Christ retreated by boat to a lonely, desolate place, on the sea of Galilee’s northeast shore. But the crowds figured out where He was going and walked quickly around the sea to arrive there first. Time went by and this large crowd of people found themselves stranded in a desolate place late in the afternoon without food.

Matthew 14:14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them.

The plight of the multitude pierced the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated “moved with compassion” is splagchnizomai. The English word spleen, comes from this word. Splagchnizomai literally means “to have one’s inner being (viscera) stirred.” It is a far stronger emotion than sympathy. It means to be affected deeply in one’s innermost being, particularly that area which is characterized by sympathy and compassion. It could be translated, “his heart was filled with pity,” “his insides were stirred up,” or “he felt very sorry for them” (UBS).

The disciples were very human just like us. You can imagine the embarrassment of the quandary they were in. They realized it was not enough food for this large multitude of people. They concluded that there was nothing that could be done. Rather than turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for help and depend upon Him, they asked him to send the crowd away. Their thinking was totally earthbound. Their human resources were exhausted. That was all they were depending upon so the response was quite natural.

But the Lord Jesus Christ had a more excellent and instructive way to handle the situation. He directed the disciples to feed the crowd themselves. They were dumbfounded. Humanly speaking it was impossible. They had no food among themselves. They had no money to buy food. And there was no local, kosher McDonald’s to be found.

But Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, showing a very tiny smidgen of faith and initiative spoke up. He noticed that there was a young boy with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good would that be with this huge crowd? In all probability, he was probably thinking that such a small amount of food could barely feed the thirteen of them.

To provide for this multitude would take a miracle. That is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ intended to do from the beginning. But He wanted His disciples to realize that what is impossible with men, using purely human resources, is possible from the supernatural hands of the living God.

The Lord Jesus Christ prayed for the Father’s provision, He took the five loaves and two fishes and supersized them. Using the creative power of His hands, the Lord Jesus Christ multiplied the meager offering into a superabundance of food.

REFLECT & PRAY

Often, a quick self-inventory of our resources and abilities finds us wanting

Father thank You that You are indeed the creator God and can do the impossible. We call it a miracle. But for You it is quick, easy, simple handiwork. It is far better to trust in Your provision then to strive to be sufficient on our own.

INSIGHT

Initially the disciple’s hands provided nothing. The hands of the Lord Jesus Christ multiplied, broke, and provided. Imagine for a moment a magician on stage performing. He whips off his hat and pulls out a rabbit. No big deal any magician can do that. But then he pulls out another, and another, and another ad infinitum. In a very similar fashion one after another the loaves and the fishes were instantaneously created and dealt out. But the supply never diminished.

Starting with practically nothing, the Lord Jesus Christ miraculously produced a great feast of bread and fishes using only His own hands.

Mark 6:41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.

The Lord Jesus Christ then used the hands of the disciples to do what they could do. The twelve disciples were assigned first to distribute the bountiful provision and later to gather together all of the leftovers into twelve full baskets. I can picture each of the disciples toting a large, overflowing basket. It was another teachable moment.

This was intended as a literal hands-on object lesson regarding the compassion and miraculous power of the Father to provide for human needs. When the Lord Jesus Christ challenged the disciples to take care of it using their own resources, He wanted them to recognize their severe limitations and inadequacy. Only the Father has adequate resources.

The Lord Jesus Christ has given every child of the King the tremendous task of communicating His gospel message to others. He does not demand from us more than we have. But he does require all that we have. His message is simple and clear. “Come to me as you are; however, ill-equipped; bring to me what you have, however little, and I will use it greatly. Little is always much in the hands of Christ (Barclay).

The Father intended the story to teach faith and dependence upon Him. He provides steps of action to take to solve the everyday problems of life. It is pretty straightforward:

  1. Start where you are with what you have.
  2. Give what you have to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Do what He asks.
  4. Conserve the results

Sadly, for many of us, we reason that it is never the right place nor the right time for the Father to work. The Father has a totally different perspective.

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

The Father responds to human need, failure, and suffering with love and compassion. The Father is always moved to shepherd us.

Comments, Suggestions, Requests are sought and welcome.

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