A Key (Matthew 14:33-36)

Photo by Tim J on Unsplash

The disciples had been rowing very late into the night. When Jesus met  them by walking  across the open water, they worshipped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Subsequently, it was in an attitude of worship that they finished their crossing of the Sea of Galilee. “When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.” 

In saying that, Matthew tells us the key to all that Jesus did at Gennesaret; “And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country.” 

There is a particular blessing that came when the people recognized Jesus. When the people of the land believed in the person of Jesus, and when they confessed that He was the One by spreading that news, healing came to their land. Those who drew near to Christ were blessed. Those who watched others draw near to Christ were also blessed, for those they knew and love were changed by His presence. The land itself was blessed, for its inhabitants were no longer under the curse of imminent judgment.

What we are reading is a partial fulfillment of God’s well-known promise in 2Chronicles 7, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 

It has always been this way. The blessing of the Kingdom is for the people of the King. When you are not in right relationship with God – be that on account of your own sin or the ignorance of your people – there is no overt blessing. There is only the general care God has for all sinners made in His image – as Jesus Himself said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Those who have not yet repented and called on the Name of God have only circumstance and the collateral blessing of His Spirit’s work on those around you (as Potiphar was blessed on account of Joseph). But when the people receive Him as a people group – then the people of that land can be legitimately called the people of God. Then the direct touch of God becomes evident as they (the people) draw close to Him in both confession (telling others about Christ) and action (seeking Him for healing). 

This promise is meant for all the earth, for the whole earth belongs to the Lord, and all those who live upon it. Yet it does not come to all the earth because the people of our land do not recognize Jesus. Even when the body of Christ is here and has been here for decades – if His body (the church) does not look like Him or sound like Him, the people will not recognize Him. That’s catastrophic, because you cannot confess what you do not know. If the people cannot see Jesus on account of His body’s presence, then they cannot confess Him. And if they cannot confess Him they cannot be known as His people, so the blessing of His presence cannot be realized.

Some hear, and others hear not.

Henry D.M.S. Jones

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How are you recognizing Christ in this season of your life? How are those around you recognizing Christ in you in this season?

Keep Going (Matthew 14:28-32)

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

“Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when   he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” 

For all the disciples – but especially Peter – this incident on the lake of Galilee one night would’ve brought on a powerful sense of déjà vu. For not that long ago they were all in a boat on this same lake when a storm hit them, “…waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” 

The two incidents are remarkably similar. A boat. A lake. A sense of impending death by drowning, even in the presence of Jesus. But the outcomes are decidedly different. After the former incident when the storm had calmed down, Matthew noted, “The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” But after the latter incident when Peter was walking on the water, Matthew notes, “Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” 

What we are witnessing in the difference between the two incidents is the spiritual growth of the disciples. Where before they asked questions about Jesus’ identity, now who He is and who they are in relationship to Him is clear. For the disciples, Jesus is no longer a man like them. He is no longer just a man with unique gifting or special knowledge. In fact, now they know that Jesus is much more than a man. Now they know He is God, and that they are God’s people. This much they can confess, because this much they know. 

Our discipleship is a lifelong journey, not a four-year educational program that you can repeat if you fail. Nevertheless, like each subsequent year of an educational program, what we are gaining today is supposed to add to all we’ve experienced and come to know. We build on each past year and each past experience. There is no plateau or break in discipleship. There is only building toward Christlikeness, or sliding back toward worldliness.

Which direction we are going is highlighted by the way we respond to circumstance. For you cannot confess what you do not know, no matter how life threatening the situation is. But what you do know, you will confess. Perhaps at first, you confess it only under life-threatening circumstance. But later, as that aspect of discipleship becomes more and more a part of you – as you are built up in Christlikeness – you will confess it freely and without much prodding at all. 

This is the journey the disciples were on. This is the journey we are all on. 

Christ is praying for us in heaven; he always sees us, no matter the distance; and he controls the winds and the sea. The night may be long and filled with torment, but we will reach the kingdom of God through the grace of a divine rescue. God may wait until the fourth watch of the night, but Jesus always enters our boat and the winds cease.

Dean B. Deppe

APPLICATION: Intentionality

You cannot complete a long journey to the right destination by changing direction before they get there. 

Rough Water (Matthew 14:28-31)

Photo by Wai Siew on Unsplash

Peter sees Jesus walking on the lake during a windstorm in the late of the  night. Perhaps  out of his frustration at having been sent away hours ago – separated from Jesus and excluded from whatever He was doing – Peter immediately asks to rejoin Jesus in what he sees Him doing now, “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  

One imagines that Peter must have said that without thinking it through. Certainly Peter has reason to be not thinking clearly – they had rowed all night and would’ve been exhausted. Nevertheless, what happens next would stretch the faith of any disciple. Jesus responds with a command to join Him out on the lake, “Come.” 

Many are those who ask Jesus to speak to them. Many are those who hear the Lord clearly respond to them. But much fewer are those who have the courage to obey. For when the Lord does engage us with a direct command, it is to obey Him by acting in faith. Faith does not abide by the rules of common sense. Common sense says that if you see and hear someone telling you to get out of the boat to walk on the water, you are hallucinating. Common sense says that by getting out of the boat will immediately cause one to sink. Common sense says that getting out of the boat on a windy night is foolish in the extreme. 

But Peter had not just seen anyone on the water. It was Jesus. Peter knew He could trust in Jesus on these matters, because much earlier Jesus had commanded the wind and waves and they had obeyed Him. Peter knew that Jesus was master over the waves, and that common sense did not always apply to what Jesus could do. So what Peter was seeing and hearing was the master of the winds and waves calling on him to walk on them. So he obeys, “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” 

Surely Peter did not have far to walk. For him to have a conversation with Jesus while the rest of the disciples were rowing and the wind was howling, Jesus must have been reasonably close to the boat – perhaps 10 or 20 meters away. Peter would only have to take a few steps to get there and be with Him on the water. But stepping forward in faith when your friends are still in the boat requires that you loose the illusion of courage that the presence of friends affords. Standing on the water a few steps from the boat, Peter makes the critical mistake of taking his eyes off Jesus, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!””

Fortunately, whenever we step forward in faith, the Lord is both near and keeping His eye on us. Matthew records, “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” 

Let us step forward then not in fear at what we see around us, but with our eyes fully on Christ, and our hearts fully set on obedience to what He has already told us to do! 

The boat is safe, and the boat is secure, and the boat is comfortable. The water is high, the waves are rough, the wind is strong, and the night is dark. A storm is out there, and if you get out of your boat, you may sink. […] But if you don’t get out of your boat, you will never walk because if you want to walk on the water, you have to get out of the boat.

John Ortberg

APPLICATION: Intentionality

If your eyes are on Jesus, don’t be afraid to get out of the boat!

Dryness (Matthew 14:25-27)

Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

There are times we expect to encounter God. Sometimes there is a special gathering of   the saints for the purpose of going deeper in our relationship with Christ. If we go to one of those gatherings, is expected that we encounter Christ. When we have taken a week off as a Sabbath week to focus on Jesus, it is expected that we encounter Him. When we ‘feel the presence’ after a prolonged time in worship, it is expected that we meet Jesus. But when we are focused on our circumstance and all seems against us, we do not expect to meet Him. In fact, when we do see Jesus at such times, His presence startles us. It is unnerving and a bit scary. We were not expecting Him, and we were not expecting Him to be there in the midst of that unbecoming circumstance. 

In the late part of the night, Jesus has chosen to rejoin His disciples, who are rowing across the lake, “… Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.”

Reading Matthew’s account, it doesn’t seem all that bizarre to us. We who live on this side of the cross all expect Jesus – now resurrected and glorified – to be able to do things like walk across open water. But the disciples were at the time living on the far side of the cross. Jesus had not yet been crucified. His disciples were not even expecting Him to die at this point in His ministry. Yet now He walks across the open water. And it is not even still water! Matthew had written how Jesus had seen the boat, “..buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” That meant there would’ve been considerable waves. The disciples would’ve been pulling with all their might on the oars, focused on trying to reach land. Moreover, having endured a long day with Jesus followed by this wild exercise session throughout the night, they’d be exhausted. One can almost imagine what is going through their minds. “Why did He tell us to leave when it was already getting dark?” “Why are we even trying to reach the far side – maybe we should go with the wind and head back to where we started?” “This is a crazy amount of opposition, why didn’t Jesus come with us?” 

And then, suddenly and without warning, a figure appears. It’s off the side of the boat. It looks like a man. A man doing what a man cannot do: Seemingly without effort overtaking the boat by walking on the waves in the dark of the night. One commentator writes, “Through the spray and in the gloom of early dawn the approaching figure could well look rather surreal; and walking on the water may seem to fit better with a floating spirit than a flesh-and-blood human figure.” It is little wonder they were terrified and did not recognize their Master. Yet there He is. And as always, His words are comforting and encouraging.” “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 

Jesus may send us to do difficult things. But He is watching over us. He will come alongside us and speak to us. Even when we least expect it. PTL.

Expect to find Jesus where you’d least expect Him—more in failure than in success; more in poverty than in luxury; more among the downcast and dubious than the bright and beautiful.

Mike Erre

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Jesus is always with us when we are about His purposes. Apply your faith and take courage then;  He has not abandoned you, even if you see or hear Him not for a season. 

Soaking in the Dark (Matthew 14:22-24)

Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

Jesus has finished ministering to the crowd. Determined to get some alone time with the   Father, He tells the disciples to go to back to the other side of the lake without Him, so He can spend time in prayer. 

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” 

Now He is finally alone. Jesus can finally have some personal time with the Father. One might have therefore expected that He would spend the full night in prayer, and perhaps the next day walk back, taking the same overland route the crowd had taken. Yet, “When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.”  

Mark notes that Jesus saw His disciples struggling from His vantage point on the mountain; “He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.” The disciples would be in a small fishing boat. Such boats were meant to be rowed out and back – they were not sailing ships. Of course, rowing when the wind is against you is a challenge. When the wind is producing strong waves it is more than a challenge – it can be a life-threatening situation. Matthew’s use of language (translated in English as “buffeted”, “battered” or “beaten”) conveys the degree of difficulty the disciples are finding themselves in. 

The reader immediately wants to know the rest of the story, and our eyes tend to jump to how Jesus responds. But there is profit in pausing here and considering what it was like for the men in the boat, because there are similar times in every disciple’s life. Times when – as a direct result of obedience to God’s explicit instruction – you find yourself being assaulted by circumstance. This is what our spiritual forefathers called the “dark night of the soul”, when in your face is nothing by elemental opposition. Just as for the disciples, both wind and water fought to hold them back. It is a time to be guided by God’s prior Word. A time to push forward by the strength only our passion to obey can muster, for we are acutely aware that God seems far off. Just as the disciples would be keenly aware that Jesus was not in the same boat.

Yet God does see. God does notice, and God does care. 

Jesus does not wait till morning to rejoin them. In His mercy to them and in the power of the Spirit, Jesus goes out to them while they are still on the water. He does not even wait till dawn to supernaturally rescue them, “During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.” Our God is ever on watch for us. Even in the midst of His communion with the Father, Jesus has His eye on us!  

The hand that upholds the, sun in the heavens guides the sparrow in its fall to the ground.

Thomas Robinson

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

The Lord is our shepherd. A very real help in time of need.

Refreshment (Matthew 14:22-23)

Photo by Leonard Laub on Unsplash

Jesus has just done the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. But He  did that after  He had set out in a boat to find a remote place and found this large crowd on the other side of the lake instead. Now that the crowd has been ministered to and fed, Jesus goes back to seeking time alone with His Father, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” 

This is something Jesus did throughout His ministry: He repeatedly retreats to spend time alone with His Father in prayer. 

There are times when prayer is best done corporately in large groups, because some decisions need to be taken in large groups. Whether that is a prayer of thanksgiving in regular worship, or an exercise in group discernment prayer for a new pastor, new building or new direction, or it is a time of corporate repentance, large corporate prayer must have a place in every Christ-follower’s life. 

Then there are times when prayer is best done in smaller groups. Prayer as ministry demands that (prayer for healing, deliverance and the breaking of strongholds). The one in need prays with the small group – which could be just one more, but is usually two or more. The others stand with them, exercise their spiritual gifting and call on God together. Prayer in small groups is also necessary when seeking spiritual protection, or when encouragement in the Lord or fellowship is a primary need. 

But then there are times when prayer simply must be done alone. This is not the pragmatic alone prayer time that most regularly employ. This is time alone with our Father when we need time alone with the Father. Especially when you need prayer for personal recharge. 

There are times in each disciples’ life when either the demands of life and ministry have taken so much from you that you are drained, or you are aware that they will shortly do so and you need to be “prayed up” to be able to face them. Like Jesus at this point in His ministry, you know you need to be alone with the Father. As soon as you can reasonably insert such a time into your schedule, you need to do so. 

As Jesus Himself said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” So the Psalmist wrote long ago, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. […] Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

Go to God. Alone. He will meet with you, and you will find refreshment in Him.

At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life’s conflict, we turn to him, and our soul dwells at ease.

Charles Spurgeon

APPLICATION: Intentionality

God alone is our source of every spiritual blessing. Seek Him and you will find Him! 

More Than Enough (Matthew 14:17-21)

Photo by Alessandro Alimonti on Unsplash

Every disciple of God knows that God Most High is eternal, and that His  Word is likewise.  As Psalm 119 declares, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” It is because God and His Word is eternal that we can expect Him to be who He says He is forever. Moreover, God’s kingdom and ways do not ebb and flow but grow and multiply, for the Word also says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” Therefore, what God’s Word says about God and His ways in the past, we should expect to see echoed in the future, even in an exaggerated way. This is exactly what we see happening in the New Testament.

In 2Kings chapter 4 we read of the miracle of Elisha feeding a hundred men with only twenty loaves of bread and a few grains of barley. For Elisha had predicted, “… this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” So it came to be, “Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.” It cannot be overlooked that what Elisha did builds on what Elijha had done in providing for the widow and her son in 1Kings 17 with the unending jar of flour and jug of oil. Elijha fed a small family, Elisha feeds a small army. Indeed, Elisha does at least twice as many miracles as Elijha. 

But then along comes Jesus. As Elisha overshadowed Elijha in works, so Jesus overshadows both. In Matthew 14 we read of Jesus telling His disciples to feed the large crowd in the wilderness; “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  “Bring them here to me,” he said. 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. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” 

It is an astonishing miracle. Yet even feeding five thousand with more than enough from only a few loaves of bread and two fish pales in comparison to feeding a number of people too great to count with every good and wonderful food they could wish for. As Isaiah prophesied, “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.” So it will yet come to pass, as John saw in his vision, “Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” A wedding supper is not just a meal. It is a huge feast, usually over multiple days. In that day God will provide for us forever, for His Word says, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.”  

This is our anticipation. This is our blessed hope!

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

King David (from Ps 36:7-8)


Praise God for His abundant and everlasting provision!

With What Little We Have (Matthew 14:19)

Photo by Wesual Click on Unsplash

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave  thanks and  broke the loaves.”

We tend to think of saying grace before meals as something the Lord instituted at the Last Supper. But saying thanks to God for the food we are about to eat is something all Jews did. “The actions—looking up to heaven, thanking God, and breaking the loaves—are normal for any head of a Jewish household.” Yet Matthew is writing his Gospel with a very clear intention. That intention is that the reader might know that Jesus is Messiah. To that point the style of Matthew’s writing, where in the storyline He puts the various memories of his time with Jesus and even the words he choses to use are all tools toward this purpose. This intention comes to the forefront at various times in Matthew’s Gospel account, but perhaps especially so here. 

In the account of the feeding of the 5000 – and again later in the feeding of the 4000 – Matthew uses language that connects with how he will describe the last supper and the institution of the Eucharist. “At the end of the day Matthew … wants to insist that, in relation to appreciating who Jesus is, the feeding has a kindred significance to the Last Supper and via that to the church’s Eucharist.” Matthew is being very deliberate in how he writes the story of this miracle – just as what Jesus was doing was highly intentional, so also what Matthew is doing is also highly intentional. 

Saying grace before a meal is an intentional remembrance of who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. Likewise, participating in the Eucharist is as intentional as administering it. It takes thought and deliberate action to accept the new covenant as God’s people, and it takes thought and deliberate action for God’s people to remember the new covenant. Just as it takes thought and deliberate action on God’s part to provide both food for the day and the sacrifice of His Son to institute the new covenant.

We tend to forget that almost all of the important components to life and ministry are intentional. What you do at your job is intentional (for the vast majority of it, anyway). For that matter, even what job you take on is intentional. Where you move is intentional – when you go on a date is intentional. Marriage is intentional. Buying a home or renting an apartment is intentional. Participating to a larger degree in one sport or another is intentional. Intentionality is what adds impact to an event, because it brings with it anticipation of what results from that event. 

Although it contains random events, life does not mostly consist of random events. It consists of intentional events and anticipated outcomes. Likewise ministry. It does have some rather random or unexpected moments, but for the most part it is as highly intentional as writing a book. It is our intentionality that provides for the anticipation of what God will yet do, and it is our intentionality that allows us to participate in what God is doing. 

To live without intentionality is to live with only the past in mind, forgetting that God is the one who was, AND the one who is, AND the one who is to come.

Growing in faith is learning to recognize the signs of God’s work all around us. This takes intentionality and practice.

Mike Erre

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What is God doing to grow your faith in Him this week? How are you intentionally cooperating with Him? 

Participation (Matthew 14:17-19)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash on Unsplash

Matthew is recounting the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. He notes that in
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash on Unsplash
347 the evening, the disciples noted that the large crowd would find nothing to eat anywhere nearby. Jesus replies that they should feed the crowd, but the disciples protest,““We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.” This fact does not faze Jesus. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass.”

Jesus directs the people to sit down on the grass. Mark notes the same fact, “Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.” As does Luke, “But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everybody sat down.”

While sitting is a simple act, it would’ve taken a while – not only because the crowd was large, but because people were being ministered to, waiting to be ministered to and no doubt rejoicing in the miracle of their healing. There would have been lines and groups or people, some shouting, some whispering, some watching intently to know when their turn would come. Perhaps not everyone would’ve heard the direction, so Jesus backs up His instruction by charging the disciples to get the crowd to sit down. Of course, those in the crowd would likely want to do that in family groups, so the direction is to be in groups that roughly equate to the size of an extended family. The crowd’s attention is now turned to finding family and a spot to sit down.

But why sit at all? Sitting was the position in which one was to eat. The crowd would’ve innately understood that. This means Jesus wanted the crowd to be in anticipation for the miracle. If Jesus was in our present culture, He might just have well have directed everyone to go to the dinner table.

When God is going to do a miracle in your life, you have to participate in it. You cannot command the miracle and you cannot cause the miracle. But you can participate in it by acting in faith. When God did the miracle of the manna for the first time, the manna appeared on the desert floor. In order to participate in the miracle and be fed, the Israelites had to first gather it. They could not cause the miracle or manipulate it, but they could participate in it by a simple act of faith. As Moses recorded, “When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs.’”

The crowd in Jesus’ day does likewise – they participate in the miracle by acting in faith through the simple motion of sitting down. We must do likewise when God is moving in power in our lives. Act in faith. Not strenuous activity. Not exertion. Not forcing it in any way. But all the same, acting in anticipation!

Christ is calling us all to participate in the miracle of reconciliation with the Father. He is calling us all to participate in the miracle His body, alive on earth. He is calling us all to participate in the miracle of everlasting life. Participation in the miracles of God is a normal and route aspect of living the Christ-life.

Marcus Verbrugge

APPLICATION: Intentionality

When the Spirit leads, co-operate!

Action (Matthew 14:17)

Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash

Jesus has just told His disciples to feed the large crowd in the remote place  He is  ministering in. The disciples are flummoxed, having not had made any advance preparation for excursions beyond town. “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.” They do not even have enough food for themselves, let alone a crowd of people. But Jesus is quite aware of that fact, as John’s Gospel makes clear;

“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”” 

In 2Kings 4, we read the story of Elisha’s miracle of the feeding of a hundred. It reads, “A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’ ” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.”  

Asking five men to share a single loaf of barley bread and a few raw grains is asking them to go hungry. It would seem like they had been given little more than an appetizer. Yet as the prophet Elisha predicted, this large group ate and had some left over. This fact – the fact that the Father had done this before – is more than enough to give Jesus confidence that He can do it again (remember how Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”). Except in Jesus’ case it is not twenty loaves of bread that He will use to feed a hundred men. It is five loaves (or ‘a few’) and a couple of fish that He will use to feed five thousand men, plus their wives and children. 

Like Elisha, Jesus starts with what He is given, and as with Elisha, a miraculous multiplication of resources takes place. The increase in order of magnitude is a reflection of the glory Christ brings to the Father compared to the glory Elisha brought. Both did the work of God, but the sinless nature of Christ allows a much greater miracle!  

A rabbinic tradition interprets Exodus 14:22 to mean that only after the Israelites had gone into the sea up to their nostrils did the waters divide and expose dry ground (Exod. Rab. 21:10). This interpretation accurately captures what faith is all about. It does not wait to see if the waters will divide and then step out. It steps out, trusting God to do what is needed.

David E. Garland

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Knowing God, listening to God and hearing His voice are of little help unless we act in faith on what He says.