Lesson 4: Miracles
Devotion: Read Matthew 14:13-21. Other than the resurrection of Jesus, the feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle reported in all four gospels. The abundance of food produced is staggering, but it is Jesus’ way of viewing the world to which we need to pay attention. Believing God is present in every moment changes how we see our circumstances. We see five loaves and two fish, but Jesus sees more. We will probably never feed a multitude with so little, but can we rely enough on the Holy Spirit that we do not withdraw from difficult situations simply because we see no way forward? How many good ministry opportunities end before they began because we are unwilling to act until we are confident we will be successful? How might people’s lives be changed by seeing faithful people make the effort and fail with grace? When have you seen amazing results that far exceeded what you thought possible because people trusted and moved forward in faith? What does it say about us when our fear of failure is greater than our willingness to step out on faith?
Personal Worship Option: Read Mark 4:30-32. Our faith does not need to be enormous to make a difference. We must put what little faith we have into action. Seeds contain giants. But they must be planted first. Pray, focusing on where God is desiring you to plant the seeds God has given you.
Dig A Little Deeper:
14:13 Read Matthew 14:1-12 to see this story’s context. Jesus’ desire to withdraw to a deserted place is in response to John’s death. Herod’s opulent feast which results in death is in sharp contrast to the meal Jesus provides.
The names of the towns are not listed, but most people assume Jesus is looking for a deserted place on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
14:15 A common interpretation suggests that because Jesus is willing to share the loaves and fish, the crowd is encouraged to share other food they have but are hoarding. This interpretation is supported by the absence of awe following the event, common after miracles. However, this interpretation overlooks that the gospel writers present the experience as one of several miracles (14:22-33, 34-36). Is feeding 5000 more difficult than walking on water?
14:19 The description of Jesus’ actions with the bread (taking, gave blessed, broke, gave) closely resemble later passages (1 Cor 11:23-24) and early church liturgies for Holy Communion. Either the early church draws on this passage to create its liturgies, or Matthew is recording Jesus’ actions in a way that is familiar to the early believers.
14:21 Many scholars feel the 5000 number is an exaggeration, given population estimates at the time. They assume oral tradition has elevated the number. Compare this passage to Matthew 15:32-39.