Our series Crossroads began with a challenge to lay our burdens at the foot of the cross.
Holy Week began with a look at noise versus praise, and yesterday we saw Jesus’ example of how we can respond when faced with temptations in our lives.
Yesterday, we explored the tension between healing and what appears to be our unanswered prayers on this subject.
Over the course of Jesus’ ministry, He met the needs of people emotionally and mentally but also challenged His disciples to meet the needs of His people physically.
For us, it looks a little different, but God challenges us to put our faith into action. It says in James,
“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:17
In the Old Testament, God provided for the Israelites after they left Egypt. He gave them manna every day and would quail to the list soon afterward. The Lord has been providing for His sheep since the beginning of time.
Feeding of the 5,000
On at least two occasions during the time of Jesus, a miracle of feeding people took place.
The people loved Jesus. They followed Him from town to town, but Jesus needed some time alone and withdrew for a while. When He came back, the people were in a remote area, and it was getting late.1
Jesus saw His sheep and had compassion for them. He healed many of them, but the daylight hours were slipping away, and the disciples urged Jesus to send the people away.2
Jesus turned the tables on the disciples and said,
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” – Matthew 14:16
Imagine for a minute; you are one of the disciples. Jesus turns and looks at you and says, feed these people. For a brief moment, you are silent. You look over the landscape and see nothing but a sea of people.
Scholars estimate that the men totaled five thousand, but with all the women and children, the number could be closer to 25,000 people. I would pass out as well.
The disciples look at Him and say,
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.” – Matthew 14:17
The disciples have been with Jesus for some time, and they just watched Jesus heal people. Did they suddenly forget who they were talking to?
The disciples brought the bread and fish to Jesus, and He blessed it, and the food multiplied. Surprise, Jesus does another miracle. There were twelve baskets left over once everyone had eaten to satisfaction.3
Feeding the 4,000
On a second occasion, Jesus was near the Sea of Galilee before heading towards a mountainside. He found a place to sit, but it wasn’t long before the people found Him.
His sheep brought their sick to Him to be healed, and that’s what He did. Jesus met their physical needs by healing them, as well as their inward need for healing.
After the healings, scripture says,
“…they praised the God of Israel.” – Matthew 15:31
For three days, the people had been with Jesus but had run out of food. Jesus didn’t want to send them away hungry, so He told the disciples to feed them.4
Once again, the disciples appear dumbfounded. He had seen Jesus do this before, and they seem to have forgotten.
Jesus asks them what they have. They reply, seven loaves and some fish.5
They sit, and Jesus blesses the food, and no surprise here…it multiplies. They had so much food left it filled seven baskets, and all the people were satisfied. After this, the crowd left and went away.6
Feed My Sheep
In both of these miracles, we see Jesus filled with compassion for the people. They are His people. The people of the land witnessed the healing power of Jesus as He met their physical needs.
As Jesus met their physical needs through healing and filling their bodies with food, He taught them about His kingdom. His sheep need healing from the inside out, and Jesus met both needs.
Today, the Lord challenges us to minister to His sheep and those around us. Some are hurting physically due to illness or disease. Others are living life on the streets because of their circumstances. Others are battling their thoughts and don’t know how to escape the voices in their heads.
Jesus is calling us to be a beacon of light and hope for the world around us. He wants us to meet their needs physically and spiritually. Many times, we need to meet the needs of people physically before they ever listen to anything we have to say about God.
Today, I want to challenge you to open your eyes to the needs around you. Listen for the sweet, still voice of the Lord guiding you to make a difference in someone’s life today.
God may be calling you to buy a cup of coffee for someone, pay for their groceries, give them a smile, or ask how their day is doing?
When God taps you on the heart or whispers in your ear, feed My sheep, listen and act. You have an opportunity each day to meet the needs of someone around you in word and deed.
How will you respond when the Lord asks you to feed My sheep?
Lord, thank you for the example of how to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people. I ask you to reveal Yourself to us today so we can feed Your sheep and make a difference in someone’s life today. Thank you for your grace and love in our lives. Amen!
- Holy Week 2021 series
- Matthew 14:13 ↩︎
- Matthew 14:14 ↩︎
- Matthew 14:18-21 ↩︎
- Matthew 15:32 ↩︎
- Matthew 15:33-34 ↩︎
- Matthew 15:35-39 ↩︎
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