Jesus and His 12 special disciples were very tired. They had been working hard every day, teaching and helping the crowds of people who came to them. They were so busy, they did not even have time to eat.
Finally Jesus told His disciples to get into a boat. They began to sail to the other side of the big lake so they could rest in a quiet place. But the people saw them leave, and began to hurry around the lake. On the way, they talked to everyone they met in the fields, towns and villages.
“Jesus is going to the other side of the lake. Come with us to hear Him,” they said.
When Jesus and His disciples reached the quiet spot, they found it full of people. There were many thousands crowded on the hillside. In those days only men were counted, and the Bible says 5,000 men were there. With all the women and children, there could have been as many as 20,000 people listening to Jesus and asking for healing. Jesus looked at the people eager to hear His words. He looked at the sick people who wanted to be made well. He loved them too much to send them away. He began to heal the sick; then He talked to the people.
Hours passed as the people stood quietly, listening to Jesus. The disciples became worried about the people. They spoke to Jesus.
“This is a barren place. The people have been standing here all day with nothing to eat. Send them away so they can go into the villages and farms and find food and a place to rest.” The disciples thought Jesus had forgotten that the people needed to eat. But Jesus never forgets.
“They don’t need to go away,” said Jesus. ”You give them something to eat.”
“How can we feed them?” The disciples asked. “It would take a year’s wages to buy enough food for all of these, and then each one could have only a little bit.” But Jesus was testing His disciples. He had a plan all along. “Go into the crowd and see if anyone has food and is willing to share,” Jesus told the disciples. There must have been several people who had food with them, but the disciples found only one who was willing to share.
“There is a little boy here with five barley loaves and two small fish,” Andrew told Jesus. “But what good does that do when there are so many people?”
Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50 and 100. Then He took the small lunch the little boy had given. Looking up to heaven, Jesus thanked God for the food, and blessed it. Then He began to break the bread and the fish into pieces. He gave the pieces to the disciples and they gave the food to the people. But no matter how many pieces Jesus broke off, there was still more left.
Everyone had enough to eat. When they were all full. Jesus told the disciples to gather up the leftovers. The disciples found some baskets and began to collect the extra food. They gathered 12 baskets of leftovers — more than the little boy had given to Jesus in the first place! If the little boy had selfishly kept his lunch, it would have fed only one person. But because he was willing to share, and gave his gift to Jesus to be blessed, that little lunch fed thousands of hungry people. The people went away happy. They had heard the words of Jesus; they had been healed by Him and fed by His hands. What a blessed day it had been.
We find many stories in the Bible of how Jesus provided food for the hungry when they had no human help. Once, He sent some birds to feed a prophet. Later, God used prophet Elijah to save a widow, her son and Elijah himself from starving in a great three-year famine. Both these stories are found in
1 Kings 17. Does God know what we need? What will He do about it? Read Matthew 6:31-33
Jesus will take care of us just as He took care of the hungry people on the hillside. He wants to feed our spirits as well as our bodies. He says:
“I am the bread of life.” John 6:48