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Scriptures in Matthew 14:13-21 and Mark 6:30-44 tell the story of how Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Only men were counted in that day, so we know significantly more than 5,000 people were fed. We can be sure that Jesus didn’t leave the women and children hungry. And after each person was filled, there was enough bread and fish left to fill twelve baskets.
Let’s think in the fullest sense of this miracle and not hurry over a story we have known since childhood. The truths of God need to settle into our minds and hearts and form a solid foundation of faith for the trials that come to all of us. There is less sting in our trials when we can immediately reflect on who God is and what He can do.
Scripture tells us after feeding of the thousands, Jesus immediately sent the disciples on ahead by boat while He went alone to a mountainside be in prayer. We know He was there for hours because scripture talks of “when evening came” (John 14:23 and Mark 6:47). Then we see another reference to time when it says Jesus went to the disciples “during the fourth watch of the night” (John 14:24 and Mark 6:48). The fourth watch of the night was between 3 and 6 a.m.
The disciples were far out on the sea when it became storm-tossed. The Greek word used for measuring distance was stadia–an eighth of a mile or 660 feet. Some Bible translations say “many stadia” or “over a mile.” My intention here is to have us see how physically far away Jesus was from the disciples when they found themselves in trouble and how they probably thought Jesus was unaware of their plight. Surely, they must have felt alone and without hope—just as we sometimes feel today. Yet . . . Jesus knew! There is never a distance so great that we are separated from the Lord when we are His children.
These stories reveal to us quite a few things:
- God has great compassion for every child of His.
- There is nothing He cannot do.
- We need quantities of time alone with God: to ponder what He has done for us, to give Him more than a nod of thank you, and to be strengthened for future trials.
- Time alone with God should be a priority, as it was with Jesus.
- We should not rush our alone time with God, but rather, linger as long as we can.
- God is never skimpy with His love. When His answers come, we can count on added blessing.
- No one is overlooked with God. He has no partiality with stations in life as man does.
- We are not to waste what God has given. Our leftover fish and bread may be in sharing the struggles of our life and how God saw us through. Never fail to share how God provides.
- We are never alone; He always knows where we are and will come to us at just the right time.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. — Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)