They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 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 his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. Mark 6, verse 37-44.
So Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the thousands of people with them and the disciples whiffed. What does Jesus do? He feeds them, of course. He feeds them in one of the most famous miracles of His life. There are so many lessons to draw from this but the one that hits me closest to the heart in this season is how God is a god of plenty.
When God satisfies our needs, He doesn’t do so barely. More than a decade ago, I laid off a half-dozen managers on an account which I was helping to manage. It was my job to do so, and they knew their positions were being cut; nothing personal. One of the managers I rolled off was a genuinely good man but he was extremely troubled by the layoff, and with good reason. A year later, I ran into him on an airplane and he told me how being laid off was the best thing that had happened to him. He was forced to make priorities of what mattered in his life (namely his faith and his family), and he moved his family to Washington State, where he got a new, better-paying job and a new life. He told me something I’ve remembered every day: “when God blesses you, He gives you more than you can hold on to. He doesn’t turn on a spigot to drip into your hand: He turns on the hose full blast. You have to share it.”
Now, I won’t go Pollyanna on you, especially if you’ve ever struggled to live paycheck to paycheck, or if you have struggled (or are struggling) to juggle paying for food versus medicine or medical care. Planet Earth is a tough place to live if you choose to live under human conditions. Left to our own devices, we’re hopeless. Jesus did live a fully human life but also lived as fully God as well. And when He blessed someone, He didn’t go half-way. Jesus always provided plenty, more than was needed, and always in bounty.
He still does today, like my friend found out. When God heals us, He performs a miracle of nature, against improbable odds. When He provides us with food, clothing, shelter, love, family, or anything, He does so in ways that surpass just our bare-bones needs. Even a simple twenty-four hour day is more than enough time to turn every day from failure to success, one minute at a time. Do you have a bed in which to sleep? You’re being blessed with so much more than you need. Food on your table? Massive blessing, and if you live in the West you have access to more than you could eat in a year. Church in which to worship? There are solutions to all life’s problems that become readily apparent as soon as two or more of us gather in His name. Good health? That is a medical miracle in a world that is full of disease and danger.
God is a god of plenty and abundance, beginning with His abundance of love. It is we who chose and foster poverty when we know there is a better way. That’s one of the biggest lessons from the feeding of the five thousand.
Lord Jesus, praise to You for all the plenty and bounty with which You bless us. Thank You for providing for all my needs. Thank You for being the God of plenty.
Read Mark 6, verses 30-44.