The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 "They took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over"

Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves." 16 Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." 17 They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish." 18 And he said, "Bring them here to me." 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Meditation:  How do you treat those who make unexpected demands on you?  When Jesus and the disciples sought a lonely place to regroup and rest, they found instead a crowd of more than five thousand people waiting for them!  Did they resent this intrusion on their hard-earned need for privacy and refreshment?  Jesus certainly didn't but welcomed them with open-arms. Jesus put human need ahead of everything else. His compassion showed the depths of God's love and concern for all who are truly needy.  Jesus gave the people the word of God and he healed them physically as well as spiritually.  We can never intrude upon God nor exhaust his generosity and kindness.  He is ever ready to give to those who earnestly seek him out.  Do you thirst for his saving word and for his healing power?

Why did Jesus command his disciples to do what seemed impossible-- to feed such a large and hungry crowd when there were no adequate provisions in sight? Jesus, no doubt wanted to test their faith and to teach them to rely upon God for their provision.  The signs which Jesus did, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand signified that God the Father had indeed sent his only begotten Son as the anointed Prophet and King for his people. Jesus' feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. What is the significance of this miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude pointed to God's provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel under Moses' leadership. This food foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers. Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God's provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who lack?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me."


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(c) 2002 Don Schwager