Feeding the Five Thousand
by Jeff Curtis
Some people think the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand are two accounts of the same story that was somehow corrupted. A close study of the two miracles will show this to be untrue.
- Different Occasions. While we can’t be sure how time had elapsed between the two events, they were definitely separate occasions. When warning His disciples about “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” Jesus clearly distinguished the two events (Matthew 19:9-10).
- Different Locations. The feeding of the five thousand took place near Bethsaida (Luke 9:10) and involved mostly Jews from Decapolis probably involved non-Jews.
- Different durations of time. The five thousand had been with Jesus one day (Matthew 14:15, 23), while the four thousand had been with Him for three days (Matthew 15:32).
- Different Amounts of Food. Jesus worked the first miracle with five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:9). Before the second miracle, seven loaves and few small fish were found (Matthew 15:34). Also, we see a difference in the amount of food retrieved after all had eaten. After the first miracle. Twelve small baskets of food were retrieved, (Matthew 14:20); but after the second miracle, seven large baskets were gathered (Matthew 15:37.
The books of Matthew and Mark feature both miracles. Why would the writers have recorded the same incident twice? Since they were guided by the Holy Spirit, they wrote the truth about each of these miracles.
What should we do? What can we learn from Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand? Here are four good lessons. (1) We must use what we have. Five loaves and two fish were not much for a multitude of people, but Jesus used His meager supply to perform His most recognizable miracle. (2) We must be willing to give what we have to offer. Andrew wondered how so little could feed so many. God can provide for any need. When we think we have nothing, God may be planning something. Faith is being able to see the invisible, believe the incredible, and receive the impossible. (3) We must obey the Lord’s commands even if we don’t understand them. Considering the amount of food available, the disciples must have thought it strange when Jesus told them to have the people to sit down on the ground. What seems impossible becomes possible with God. (4) We shouldn’t waste our blessings. All the leftovers were collected. Nothing was thrown away. If our Lord considered it necessary to conserve, shouldn’t we do the same?
The Many Sides of Jesus
Jesus challenges the attention of this world by His many-sidedness. He meets the needs of all classes and conditions of men. As deep answers unto deep, so does He respond to the movings of each soul of men. Ask the worker of this world, “What think ye of Christ?” Their answers amaze us:
To the artist, He is the One altogether lovely.
To the astronomer, He is the Sun of Righteousness.
To the baker, He is the Living Bread.
To the biologist, He is Life.
To the builder, He is the Sure Foundation.
To the carpenter, He is the Door.
To the doctor, He is the Great Physician.
To the educator, He is the Great Teacher.
To the farmer, He is the Sower.
To the florist, He is the Rose of Sharon.
To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages.
To the philanthropist, He is the Unspeakable Gift.
To the servant, He is the Good Master.
Who is He to you?
Walking by Faith
by Jeff Curtis
The trial we experience in life often don’t make sense to us. in the midst of adversity, Christians are called to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2Cor. 5:7). Life is much more than what we can see from a physical perspective. We must trust God to cause “all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28) and believe the promises of His inspired Word.
People of God must respond in faith to God’s plan and realize the His providential hand is at work behind the scenes to accomplish His will. In general, people are more comfortable walking by sight than by faith. Jacob had believed his eyes and assumed Joseph was dead. On the other hand, it seems that he always had some doubts about his sons’ story. When they returned from Egypt without Simeon and told that they would have to go back with Benjamin. Jacob blurted out how he really felt, “You have bereaved me of my children; Joseph is not more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36).
When the brothers returned home from Egypt after their second trip to buy grain, they told what seemed like a fantastic story. They said, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over the land of Egypt.” Jacob “was stunned” by their words, and since, their relationship had been strained by doubt for so many years, “he didn’t believe them” (Gen. 45:26). Nevertheless, they informed their father that Pharaoh had authorized them to move to Egypt. He had promised they would have “the best of the land” (Gen. 45:18). He also instructed Joseph to provide his brothers with animals to “pull wagons from the land to Egypt” to ease the travel for their wives, children, and aged father (Gen. 45:19. Joseph had also presented his brothers with changes of clothes and all the provisions needed for the journey; but Benjamin he had given three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments (Gen. 45:22). To his father, he had sent then donkeys, loaded with many of the best things of Egypt, plus ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and other sustenance for his father on his journey. (Gen. 45:23).
Joseph also informed them that the famine that had affected the land for two years would continue for another five. He told his brother, “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:8).
Throughout the centuries, believers who never saw Jesus or heard his voice have a similar challenge. Only a relatively small number of people were able to witness Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven (John 20:19-31; Acts 1:9-11; 1Cor. 15:1-8). The faith of believers for two thousand years has not come from seeing and hearing Him personally, but from the testimony of apostolic witnesses which lives in the Scriptures (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 4:12). Peter was referring to this kind of faith when he wrote to Christians being persecuted. They had not seen or heard Jesus during His ministry, but they believed in Him with inexpressible joy. The outcome of such faith was “the salvation of their souls” (1Peter 1:6-9). In the area of the world, it is called Turkey today, first century Christians believed because of the integrity of Peter’s life and his testimony to Jesus Christ. Peter knew Jesus to be the Lord and Savior who provided, through the new birth, an imperishable inheritance in heaven for all who love Him (1Peter 1:1-5). The great apostle had nothing to gain by lying; in fact, he had everything to lose from a human standpoint, but he was faithful to that divine calling. His example of faith made his message all the more powerful.
The writer of Hebrews said, “Faith is the substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see” (Heb. 11:1; NEB). Through the eye of faith, our hopes become real and certain that we can act in certain terms of them. That is what Jacob had to do when his sons returned from Egypt with Simeon and Benjamin and reported to him that Joseph was alive and was second only to Pharoah in the Egyptian government. Even though the grieving patriarch hadn’t seen Joseph in many years and believed he was dead, he accepted in faith – based on the testimony of his elder sons – that his favorite child had become a powerful ruler in Egypt.
God expects such responses from His people in every age. As we continue on our journey of faith to our home in heaven, we must act with the knowledge that faith is the victory that overcomes the doubts and fears of the world (1John 5:4).