You can always be generous. Even if you think you have nothing to give, God ensures you do.
Verses 1-3 read,
“After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.”
The narrative begins after Jesus had taught about His union with the Father. He went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. This is not something unusual in the Gospels. Jesus took time for Himself and the twelve disciples often, especially after a difficult or stressful situation. He would take a break from the demands of the crowds and refresh.
Jesus is our ultimate example of pastor and leader. He is the exact image of God. Since we long to be like him we should pay attention to His model. We can tend to get busy quickly. Although Jesus had a lot to do in His ministry and had many people depending on Him, He took time off from serving them to commune with the Father and fellowship with His friends.
But Jesus didn’t begrudge the crowds, He loved them and so when He saw that they had found Him, He had compassion on them and wanted to give them the teaching they sought as well as meet their physical needs. He already knew what He would do, but He asked His disciples for ideas.
We face so many situations in life when we don’t know how something can happen. Jesus doesn’t teach us to worry, He wants us to have faith that He is our Jehovah-Jireh, and El-Shaddai. He is the Lord Our Provider and Our Almighty All-Sufficient God. Jesus asked Phillip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He didn’t ask because He didn’t know. He asked so that Phillip and the other disciples would consider the options and realize that Jesus was the answer to their needs.
Peter mentioned a boy who had five barley loaves and two fishes. He knew this was something and that Jesus could use the little bit somehow. But he didn’t know how. Perhaps he wondered if anyone else had brought food. If enough had brought food maybe there would be enough. Jesus and the twelve didn’t ignore the people when they arrived. They didn’t resent that their rest had been interrupted. They interacted with them, showed kindness, and got to know some of them. How else would Peter know about the boy’s food?
God consistently provides you opportunities to serve Him. You can recognize and embrace those occasions or you can resent them and miss your chance to demonstrate God’s love for someone and your love for God. If you are going to serve God ungraciously, He’d rather you not. He is always graceful, always loving and always compassionate. If you serve Him because you have to, your sullenness doesn’t demonstrate God.
Verses 10-11 read,
“Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.”
Although their earthly resources were limited, they used them. They recognized that it was from God and they thanked Him for what He had given. Jesus didn’t say, “Alright, Y’all everyone just take a bite cause we don’t have much.” He told them to take as much as they wanted.
2 Corinthians 9:8 reads,
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work”
When you give, God guarantees you will have enough to give. He wants you to be Jesus to the world. He wants to do good works. He makes it possible for you. If you only have $1.00, it will be enough to do good for someone. If it will take $10 or $100, God will make it doable. Had the disciples chosen to ignore the crowd and go buy food for themselves, God wouldn’t have provided for them. It was in the giving that He multiplied what they had.
And boy, did He ever multiply it! Verses 12-13 read,
“And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.”
Jesus made sure that nothing was wasted. Just because His riches are inexhaustible doesn’t give us the right to waste them. They gathered up all the leftovers and there was plenty left for people to take home and feed their families. Because they didn’t waste anything, the good work that was done could continue to work. Part of our recognition that all things come from God is that we are wise with His resources. Thankfulness involves using what we are given well.
The story ends with verses 14-15.
“When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself”
The good work Jesus and the disciples did resulted in people recognizing Jesus. When you do good works for Him, people will recognize Him as well. They will see Jesus in you, they will have to acknowledge Him. They didn’t get it quite right, but eventually some of them would. They were about to make Jesus their earthly king to save them from the oppression of Rome. So Jesus withdrew again.
God knew He needed some rest and the time came for Him to be able to take it. Jesus provided for the spiritual and physical needs of the crowd, and the Father met Jesus’ needs.
When you give cheerfully and lovingly, you can count on God to allow those works to thrive. And you can count on God to meet your needs as well. Don’t be afraid to use the little you have to do be generous. God does great things with those willing to let Him.