Week 3 | Monday
Week 3: What Attitude Does Jesus Challenge?
Feeding of the Five Thousand: We Don't Have Enough!
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 9: 10-17
12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
- The disciples just got back from a mission Jesus sent them on, to do some ministry the way he has demonstrated it–healing and teaching, while depending on the good will of others to take care of them (Luke 9:1-6). Perhaps the disciples thought they were going to get a chance to rest up and have a retreat with Jesus, but the crowds had something else in mind. If you were one of the Twelve, how would you think about the plan they come up with to feed the crowds (v.12), especially compared to Jesus’ response (v.13)?
- It’s interesting to note that the word the disciples use to describe where they are, a “remote place” (v.12), is the same word used for “wilderness,” recalling the Israelites’ forty years of wilderness wanderings. As Jesus provides food for the crowds, how might he be stretching the disciples’ expectations, and give further clues about his own identity?
- There were Twelve who were anxious about how to feed this crowd, and twelve leftover baskets of food. How might this lesson speak most directly to the disciples with him?
- When you are faced with needs beyond your ability to meet, how do you tend to respond?
- Do you have any stories of God blessing your limited means to accomplish something greater than you could have imagined?
- Take time to reflect on and thank God for ways he has met your needs today. Ask him for eyes of faith to turn to him for needs bigger than you can handle on your own.
- Do you have any stories you can share about God’s provision beyond what you may have asked or imagined?
There is a Maverick City Music song, “Jireh” that I have really enjoyed. The word means provider. God is always enough! I loved Melody’s story in Church yesterday. God provided for her needs! I am trusting God day by day with people, situations and needs that arise. Last night, we watched The Chosen, Season 3-episode 1. In this episode, Jesus was delivering the Sermon on the Mount. He spoke,”Have no anxiety about anything…” Janet pointed out that this doesn’t mean we won’t have anxious situations. It means we bring them to Jesus. The problem is sometimes we don’t leave them with Jesus-we take them back and try to figure them out ourselves. God has never failed us and He will never leave us! Trust in Him is like a muscle that must be developed. Heading off to the gym right now😁!
I have experienced God's generosity in countless ways over the years. My parents were missionaries. As kids, we never knew we were short of money, but we found out later we often were. God always provided for my parents. The same has been true in our family. We started out with nothing, but God has always provided -- through jobs, unexpected bonuses or tax refunds, generous employers -- it's impossible to count all the ways. We definitely saw his hand at work when we rented out our house in NJ and then later sold it. Now we are seeing God provide for our children and grandchildren. During our NJ years, I used to help out with the bookkeeping at our church. I can tell you, that was an exercise in faith! But it was amazing to see how God provided (at the last minute, it often seemed!). Today I am praising him for his generosity and faithfulness over the years.
Janet, thank you for showing us that "remote place" and "wilderness" are the same word. It makes sense that Jesus as God provided in the wilderness, and he still does it for us today!
There was one time I raised funds for a missions trip. After coming to faith in my college years, I saw many friends go on interesting summer mission trips all over the world and report back on all they had learned and how their faith had grown. It was something I really wanted to do too, but it conflicted with the commitment I had to my parents to work for them in the summers. Then, the summer prior to my senior year in college, I heard from Tom about a need in Pakistan to help teach English to Afghan refugee women & girls (Tom had graduated the year before and was living with his parents there in Pakistan while deciding what to do next). I determined that I could rearrange my schedule such that I could go to Pakistan my fall semester of senior year--all I needed was the funds to get there. My parents were dubious about my ability to raise the money--they said if I could do that I could go. It didn't take long at all for the money to come in, mostly in small gifts like $20 from friends who had done similar things, for me to have above and beyond what I needed. I remember going to NYC with my Mom to buy ESL books with the extra money to contribute to the project. I felt like it was a testimony to my parents of how God provides. It also was a big lesson to me of how the community of believers comes together with the little they have to do great things for God. It was a great privilege to feel carried by the wings of my Father in heaven who so abundantly provided.
12 years ago this August I went out on disability. What the doctors thought was I'd be out of work for 6 months, which turned into 9 months than a year and finally permanent disability. I was too sick to worry about finances. I had slept for 3 months waking to eat, read God's word, go to church and watch TV. Hubby was concerned about finances since we were losing just over half of our income until disability came through. An invited speaker came to our church and gave a message on faith as small as a mustard seed. I told hubby that I was going to plant some of those mustard seeds AND if they grew it would be a sign that God would provide. AND He did. We never missed a bill, went without food, clothing or medical needs. It took a year to get approved for SSI. He prospered us just as He prospered those 5,000 men, women and children with plenty of food and 12 baskets left over. God is our miracke worker and promise keeper. Praise be to God.
This is such a timely message for me to reflect on. In a lot of ways, it seems like Matt and I have been looking at one another over the last weeks saying "there isn't enough!" There isn't enough time for all that we want (or signed up) to do, we don't have enough energy or mental capacity for all that seems expected, it never seems like there's enough.
God has met our needs in so many tangible ways, financially and otherwise, that it seems silly to even worry about our current stress in light of his faithfulness. But still - our calendar, wallet, and brains feel so stretched. As I read this passage and the questions/thoughts you've laid out, I am reminded that I don't have to have it all figured out. And that it's okay to be overwhelmed by what's in front of me. What is important is turning to God and being willing to hand over my plans and allow him to redirect.
One of the times I saw God’s provision was this past November. Bills were getting very tight. Heating our house comes at a high cost. The holidays were coming up. I wasn’t sure how we were going to be able to pull it all off. Then all of a sudden my husband’s boss told him he earned an award at work that came with a bonus. I saw this as God answering my prayers and showing that he always provides.
This is kind of a funny story of God’s provision. When we were a young family, with three little kids, we owned our business and things did get very tight sometimes. God was incredibly faithful. One time we were out of dental floss, and the kids would only use mint dental floss. It’s not that we didn’t have money for dental floss, but the strangest thing happened. I was outside getting our mail and I looked down and there was something white under a bush in our yard. It was an almost brand new packet of dental floss, and it was mint flavored!! What this did for my faith was help me realize that in a strange way, God takes care of small details and for some reason that shows me He’s also going to take care of big details. I know that seems backward, but that is the paradox of God.