Sabbath, August 20, 2011
“In Christ’s act of supplying the temporal necessities of a hungry multitude is wrapped up a deep spiritual lesson for all His workers. Christ received from the Father; He imparted to the disciples; they imparted to the multitude; and the people to one another. So all who are united to Christ will receive from Him the bread of life, the heavenly food, and impart it to others.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 369.
Healing and teaching the people
1. How did Jesus feel when He saw so many people in need? What motivated them to follow Him?
Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Luke 9:11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
John 6:2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
“He saw a greater necessity demanding His attention as He watched the people coming and still coming. He ‘was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd.’ Leaving His retreat, He found a convenient place where He could minister to them. They received no help from the priests and rulers; but the healing waters of life flowed from Christ as He taught the multitude the way of salvation.
“The people listened to the words of mercy flowing so freely from the lips of the Son of God. They heard the gracious words, so simple and so plain that they were as the balm of Gilead to their souls. The healing of His divine hand brought gladness and life to the dying, and ease and health to those suffering with disease. The day seemed to them like heaven upon earth, and they were utterly unconscious of how long it had been since they had eaten anything.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 364, 365.
2. As evening drew near after Jesus had spent a long day giving blessed words of comfort to the many people, what did the disciples urge Him to do?
Matthew 14:15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
Mark 6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.
“At length the day was far spent. The sun was sinking in the west, and yet the people lingered. Jesus had labored all day without food or rest. He was pale from weariness and hunger, and the disciples besought Him to cease from His toil. But He could not withdraw Himself from the multitude that pressed upon Him.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 365.
Give them food
3. How did the Saviour respond to this suggestion? What would be the typical human response to such a statement?
Matthew 14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
Mark 6:37, first part He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat.
“He chose a pleasant place in which to accommodate the people and commanded them to sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two small fishes. No doubt many remarks were made as to the impossibility of satisfying five thousand hungry men….” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 263.
4. What was Jesus’ purpose in asking Philip where they could purchase bread for the multitude?
John 6:5-7 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
“Philip looked over the sea of heads and thought how impossible it would be to provide food for so great a company. He answered that two hundred pennyworth of bread would not be enough to divide among them so that each might have a little.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 45.
“The disciples finally came to Him, urging that for their own sake the people should be sent away. Many had come from far, and had eaten nothing since morning. In the surrounding towns and villages they might be able to buy food. But Jesus said, ‘Give ye them to eat,’ and then, turning to Philip, questioned, ‘Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ This He said to test the faith of the disciple. Philip looked over the sea of heads, and thought how impossible it would be to provide food to satisfy the wants of such a crowd. He answered that two hundred pennyworth of bread would not be nearly enough to divide among them, so that each might have a little.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 365.
Food for the multitude
5. How many men were there besides all the women and children? What did Jesus do with the small amount of food that was available?
Matthew 14:17, 18 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me.
Matthew 14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Luke 9:14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company.
Matthew 14:19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
“Jesus directed that these be brought to Him. Then He bade the disciples seat the people on the grass in parties of fifty or a hundred, to preserve order, and that all might witness what He was about to do. When this was accomplished, Jesus took the food, ‘and looking up to heaven, He blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 365.
6. What happened to the few loaves of bread after the Lord blessed them? How much did everyone receive from the heavenly storehouse?
Matthew 14:20, first part, 21 And they did all eat, and were filled:… And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
“The scanty provision grew under the hand of Christ, and He had constantly a fresh supply for His servants to distribute to the hungry multitude, until all had a sufficiency.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 344, 345.
“No doubt many remarks were made as to the impossibility of satisfying five thousand hungry men, besides women and children, from that scanty store. But Jesus gave thanks and placed the food in the hands of the disciples to be distributed. They gave to the multitude, the food increasing in their hands. And when the multitude had been fed, the disciples themselves sat down and ate with Christ of the heaven-imparted store. This is a precious lesson for every one of Christ’s followers.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 263.
“In feeding the five thousand, Jesus lifts the veil from the world of nature, and reveals the power that is constantly exercised for our good. In the production of earth’s harvests God is working a miracle every day. Through natural agencies the same work is accomplished that was wrought in the feeding of the multitude. Men prepare the soil and sow the seed, but it is the life from God that causes the seed to germinate…. It is God who is every day feeding millions from earth’s harvest fields.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 367.
7. How many baskets of bread were left over after everyone had eaten? What additional lessons are contained in this miracle?
Matthew 14:20, last part … And they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
John 6:12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
“And when we are brought into strait places, we are to depend on God. We are to exercise wisdom and judgment in every action of life, that we may not, by reckless movements, place ourselves in trial. We are not to plunge into difficulties, neglecting the means God has provided, and misusing the faculties He has given us. Christ’s workers are to obey His instructions implicitly. The work is God’s, and if we would bless others His plans must be followed. Self cannot be made a center; self can receive no honor. If we plan according to our own ideas, the Lord will leave us to our own mistakes. But when, after following His directions, we are brought into strait places, He will deliver us. We are not to give up in discouragement, but in every emergency we are to seek help from Him who has infinite resources at His command. Often we shall be surrounded with trying circumstances, and then, in the fullest confidence, we must depend upon God. He will keep every soul that is brought into perplexity through trying to keep the way of the Lord.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 369.
“The disciples were the channel of communication between Christ and the people. This should be a great encouragement to His disciples today. Christ is the great center, the source of all strength. His disciples are to receive their supplies from Him. The most intelligent, the most spiritually minded, can bestow only as they receive. Of themselves they can supply nothing for the needs of the soul. We can impart only that which we receive from Christ; and we can receive only as we impart to others. As we continue imparting, we continue to receive; and the more we impart, the more we shall receive. Thus we may be constantly believing, trusting, receiving, and imparting.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 370.
For additional study
• Matthew 14:13-21
• Mark 6:32-44
• Luke 9:10-17
• John 6:1-13
• The Desire of Ages, pp. 364-371
• The Ministry of Healing, pp. 45-50
Trusting God’s providence
When we have none, how many possibilities does the Lord have?