What’s your favorite “Jesus story”?
I once heard a Bible teacher ask us this question—to think about our favorite gospel story of Jesus. He asked us to consider—of all the amazing things Jesus did and said, if one or two records had a special impact or was particularly enjoyable. He suggested pondering this to gain insight into one’s personal ministry and walk with
I have found this very helpful in better understanding myself and my calling, as well as deepening my relationship with the Lord. Jesus, more than anyone else in the Scriptures, illustrates so many attributes of our heavenly Father—to the extent that Jesus even said, “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
There are so many records of Jesus in the gospels, that singling out just one or two might seem challenging. Probably, like me, you have many favorites.
Jesus Feeds a Multitude
One record which I particularly love is the miracle of Jesus feeding a multitude with just a few loaves of bread and two fish. It’s the only miracle Jesus performed that’s recorded in all four gospels.1 It’s short, so let’s read
John 6:5-13. So Jesus, after raising His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” But He was saying this only to test him, for He Himself knew what He intended to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not enough for them, for each to receive just a little!” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline to eat.” Now there was plenty of grass in the place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were reclining; likewise also of the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover pieces so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with pieces from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
Let’s pause and consider this amazing scene. Thousands of people had gathered on an open hillside to see and hear Jesus. It was a long and exciting day listening to the master teach and watching him minister and heal. It may have been hot standing out there under the sun.
Somewhere in that crowd there was a young boy with a little food in his hand, straining to see Jesus among the people. Perhaps earlier that day his mother had lovingly packed up some food for him before sending him off, having no idea what would become of that lunch. Or possibly this boy was there with his family and asked permission to offer their meal up to Jesus. Imagine their surprise as events unfolded! It would make a family story to be retold for generations to come.
However these events played out, one thing is clear. That lad had something that Jesus could use, and he was willing to surrender it to the Lord. Once he released it, Jesus was able to take it and accomplish the purpose at hand—in this case, feeding a weary and hungry multitude of followers after a long day.
I imagine that young boy’s eyes were locked onto Jesus to see what he would do. Probably every eye in the crowd was on Jesus!
All four gospels show that, before working this miracle, Jesus looked to heaven and gave thanks for what was about to happen. He honored his heavenly Father so that God would receive all the glory, thereby allowing God to work. In essence, Jesus was “calling those things that do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17). (A separate topic altogether.)
Jesus made it clear that it was God who gave him the words to speak and who worked through him to do the miraculous. He said, “The Father who dwells in me does the works” (John 14:10).2
I love the fact that all four records make the point that after the people were well fed, they collected the leftovers and filled 12 baskets. So, not only did everyone get to eat, but they had plenty left over to share with others later. How beautifully this illustrates the way our heavenly Father works with us! He can so fill and satisfy us when we submit to Him, that not only are we blessed, but we then have the wherewithal to extend those blessings to others as well.
Why Not Expect a Miracle?
This record is one of my favorites because it illustrates how God can take something small that I may have, which He can use, and accomplish much more than I could ever imagine. This gives me hope, because at times I am tempted to feel inadequate, like I have so little to give Him. Sometimes I can think my prayers are unimpressive or feeble or that my ability is just not equal to the situation at hand. However, if I am willing to surrender to Him even what little I do have, great things are possible.
Maybe you’ve also felt this way at times—like you have so little to offer, and perhaps the need seems very great. Sometimes you may not even know what to pray for. Perhaps you may think that what you can contribute to a situation seems so inadequate.
Yet, if we are willing to take what little we do have, whether it’s our time, our limited finances, our abilities, our prayers, or anything else that God can use, and fully release it to Him, then He can go to work. The same God, who worked through Jesus to feed the multitudes on the shores of Galilee, is still working today. And Jesus Christ hasn’t changed; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.3 Not only that, but Christ is in you4 and wants to live through you!5 It’s not about us. It’s never about us! It’s all about Him!
So, like that young lad, let’s keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is the perfector of faith (Hebrews 12:2), and he can help us to perfect our faith. Through him, God can take what we give Him and accomplish far more than we could ever ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
Why not expect a miracle?
1The four records are Matt. 14:15-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:12-17;
and John 6:5-14.
2Jesus made similar statements in John 5:19; 5:30; and 12:49.