1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Luke, The Feeding of the Five Thousand - Lesson 114


Luke 9:10‑17,  And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11And 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. 12And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. 13But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. 14For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. 15And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.


The lesson of the feeding of the five thousand is that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.


It is clear from God’s word that God desires opportunity in the lives of his people  so that He may develop men and women of faith.


What the Apostles are to learn by this miracle of the loaves and fishes is that behind every command of God is God’s omnipotence. 


To learn this lesson Jesus held His Apostles responsible for meeting the physical needs of this huge crowd for it would take His omnipotence to do it.


The Apostles were interested in ridding themselves of this great multitude and thereby solving, what they considered a great problem. 


But Jesus’ solution was not to solve their problem by sending the 5000 men plus the women and children home but to solve the problem by commanding them to “Give ye them to eat.” 


Get involved in ministry, Jesus was saying to the Apostles.   


Don’t pass the need for ministry to others when you can do what you can do by the grace of God.  My grace is sufficient!


You have access to the grace of God and you can use that grace in ministry. 


If you don’t use that available grace in ministry how will the ministry get done?  The just shall live by faith. 


The Lord Jesus Christ is giving opportunity to these chosen men to be co-laborers with Him, opportunity to trust Him for provision.  Is that so bad?


They were expected to do what they could do and expect God to do the rest. 


Recall the story of George Mueller, who lived from 1805 to 1898, and founded many orphanages in England. 


In the early days of his work he and his wife found themselves without any food to feed the children with no source to go to for food. 


He had spent all that he had in service to God and there was no money to buy food. 


In other words he was on the right wave length with God for he was loving children in God’s stead.


George Mueller’s response to this lack of food was not to throw up his hands and quit but to have the table set, to gather his children around the table and to expect God to provide what was needed.


He had a part, God had a part.


This is an excerpt from the booklet, “The Life and Ministry of George Mueller” by Ed Reese about one of those times.

One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty.  There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy 
food.  The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when Mueller said, "Children, you know we must be in 
time for school."  Lifting his hand he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." 
There was a knock on the door.  The baker stood there, and said, "Mr. Mueller, I couldn't sleep last night.  Somehow I 
felt you didn't have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some.  So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some 
fresh bread, and have brought it."  Mueller thanked the man.  No sooner had this transpired when there was a second knock 
at the door.  It was the milkman.  He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, 
and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it.  
The lesson here is that George Mueller did what he could in ministry, he had the plates and cups and bowls on the table, he had the children assembled and then he asked God to provide.


In other words he did what he could and God did the rest. 

He extended his arm his full reach in order to minister to the children and then he expected God to span the remaining gap.  


This is the teaching of this miracle. 


This is what Jesus Christ wanted his disciples to learn and what he wants us to learn.


While the Lord is the One who fed the five thousand plus, it was the twelve disciples who were very much involved in the process of the feeding.


They were to survey the crowd, seeking to discover what their resources were.


They were to have the crowds sit down in groups of 50, so that they could eat.


The disciples then passed out the food which was being miraculously multiplied as it was given out.


This excerpt about this passage is from “George Mueller of Bristol and his witness to a prayer-hearing God, 1899, by Arthur T. Pierson, God has His own mathematics: witness that miracle of the loaves and fishes. Our Lord said to His disciples: "Give ye them to eat," and as they divided, He multiplied the scanty provision; as they subtracted from it He added to it; as they decreased it by distributing, He increased it for distributing. And it has been beautifully said of all holy partnerships, that griefs shared are divided, and joys shared are multiplied.

What the disciples were commanded to do, they had to do in faith.


They had to act before Jesus provided, they had to do their part.  


I can imagine the disciples saying to themselves as they got the people in ranks as was commanded.


What is he getting us into now, perhaps Peter said? 


There is no food and look at the crowd that has come to eat. 


How did we get into this mess?  “Give ye them to eat” He said. 


What are we to give them to eat? 


Naturally they thought of themselves as the source of the food.

But they were told to have the people sit down to eat even though there was little food in sight.


What good was the food the little boy had brought?


But the disciples had to begin passing out the little food that they had.  They had to do their part.


When and how the food was multiplied, we do not know.


But just as the priests who bore the ark had to get their feet wet before the Red Sea parted, the disciples had to act before the solution was given.   


God acted through the disciples, as they obeyed.  God acts on faith!


And then as all were fed, low and behold there were twelve baskets of food left, one for each disciple.


No doubt there was a little bit of embarrassment as each were given a basket of loaves and fishes.


16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? 


How we should remember that the Lord is the teacher and we are the students.


Did this experience of the feeding of the five thousand bring to  the minds of the Apostles the words that our Lord preached in the Sermon on the Mount?


Matthew 6:31‑33,  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.


Jesus Christ not only told the Apostles to take no thought but he gave them opportunities to take no thought. 


Don’t waste time taking thought when you can spend your time exercising faith. 


The purpose of our Lord’s opportunities for the disciples was to train them in the area of faith.


The “Training of the Twelve” was, first and foremost, training them to trust in Him.


Jesus Christ gave the Apostles tests or opportunities in which to try faith. 


Jesus commanded the disciples to obey Him, without having the human means of doing so, and thus having to trust Him to provide for their needs. 


This is what he told the rich young ruler, Sell all you have and follow me. 


All that you have gets in the way of following me so get rid of that which hinders and then you will trust in me.


Another way of saying this is Burn your bridges, And follow me.


Another way of saying this is if your right arm offend you cut it off. 


Don’t let anything get in the way of following Christ!


When you come to Christ make it so there is no turning back.


Jesus said it this way in Matthew 16:25,  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.


Proverbs says it this way in Proverbs 3:5,6,  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.


Jesus’ commandments were purposed to create needs which only He could satisfy, and which would be obtained only through faith.


One of the purposes of the written word of the Gospels is for us to join the Apostles on their journey of faith and learn the same lessons as they learned.


We can learn by the Word of God and/or God will put us through testing in order to teach us faith.


In this passage in Luke concerning the feeding of the five thousand there are principles which not only apply to the disciples, but also apply to us.


A principle that we learn is that the Lord teaches us to trust Him for help by commanding us to do that which is beyond our means to do.


When you stop to think about it, all of the commands of God are impossible for fallen, sinful man to obey.  


That is why we must not only be saved by grace through faith, but we must walk by faith.


Only people of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can obey God and only saved people are people of faith. 


God’s commandments are not humanly possible to obey.


The Pharisees were quick to load the people with burdens that they could not bear and were unwilling to lift a finger to help.


Jesus said in Matthew 23:4,  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.


The burden that Jesus binds is light, not because it is easy, but because He provides the means to do what He commands (cf. Matthew 11:28‑30).


He gives us an impossible task to do but he is always there to help us accomplish the task. 


For most of my working life I was a supervisor. 


One of the principles by which I operated was that I, and those who worked for me, were performing our tasks together and we were not to be adversarial in our working relationships. 


In others words I did not want to be a supervisor who was always finding blame if something did not go right but I tried to help those who worked for me to do his or her job better so the final product of our department was a good one. 


I communicated to all that we were all in this work together, we were co-laborers, not fault finders of each other trying to outdo one another. 


And that is what our Lord teaches also. 


He is not out to get us but he is out to help us in those  endeavors that we do for him. 


We are co-laborers with God and as co-laborers with God we are expected to call upon Him for help.


Isaiah 41:10,  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.


Another principle is that God uses human “needs” as an avenue for teaching and testing our faith.


If you have it all and there is nothing you lack get ready to be given a need in your life that you cannot supply.


It is difficult to trust God in those areas where we do not have a sense of need.


Jesus desired to give that sense of need to the rich ruler of Luke 18 who trusted alone in his riches. 


He said to him after he boasted that he had kept all the commandments. 


Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.   In other words burn your bridges!


What did the ruler lack that Jesus wanted to provide? 


That lack was his trust in God which could only be gotten by getting rid of that which he trusted in, that which he could go back to.


Jesus’ knows that faith is learned in the crises of life, when we must obey God and look to him for the proper provision. 


We think that what we have is what we ought to have. 


God has a better way and may take away what we have so that he can give us what is best. 


The rich ruler thought what he had could not be bettered but faith in God would have brought what he truly needed.


Many times the needs that God brings into our lives provide turning points that identify our faith or contrary they give us an excuse for our unbelief and disobedience. 


God puts needs in your path. 


Where will you go to have your needs met?  Will it be God or man? 


Everyone needs to earn a living. 


Everyone needs to eat and be clothed and to provide for a family. 


The satisfying of those needs are a crossroad. 


Each man, each woman comes to that crossroad in life. 


Jesus Christ put needs in the pathway of the disciples when he told them to feed the 5000. 


What did they do?  They looked to the town to provide. 


Perhaps 200 pennyworth will do it. 


Take an inventory, perhaps there is enough in the crowd that we can share. 


But both those schemes failed and they were forced to look to Christ and to obey him and get provision from him.


Isn’t it a better thing to look to Christ at the first than to try to come up with a scheme to provide on your own? 


Do as much as you can but trust in God to do the rest.


We see in this passage that not having the means is no excuse.


Jesus did not tolerate this answer for he commanded them to feed the 5000 and the one thing the disciples failed to recall was that Jesus has all the means required to do any task he purposes to do.


When we excuse ourselves from obedience to His commands, we use our deficiencies as an excuse for sin, rather than as an occasion for faith.


Lacking the means to do something is not necessarily proof that God does not want us to do what requires these things, nor that we should not attempt to do them.


Having no food was not justification for sending the crowds away hungry.


Are we always to see deficiency as a justification for failing to do anything?


Are we always to suppose that we are to act when we do not have the means?


We are told to be hospitable but we may say we have not the means. 


Well God has the means.  Use what you have and God will supply the rest. 


The commandments to live holy lives, to put off the old man, to put on the new, to be filled with the Spirit, are all impossible in the power of the flesh, but provided for by the sending of the Holy Spirit.


We have in each of these cases, a command and a promise of His provision.  

We must act, we must obey, when we have a clear command, and a promise of His provision.