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God’s Word for You

Luke 9:16-17

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 30, 2018

16 Then Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, and, looking up to heaven, he blessed them and broke the bread. Then he kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd.

Luke’s Greek word edidou tells us that Jesus gave and gave and kept on giving the food to his disciples to pass out to the people. First, Jesus gave thanks. He looked to heaven, not to the people around him, to supply what was lacking. He teaches us to do the same: to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. The miracle was not carried out by the disciples, nor by any sharing of food that the crowds happened to have. Jesus, Luke tells us plainly, broke the bread (the usual signal that a meal had begun), and then began to hand out the fish and the broken loaves. He gave some to Peter, perhaps (or any of the disciples), who then went to begin passing out what he had. Then he gave more to Andrew, who did the same. But there was more bread, and there were more fish. He gave some to James, and to John, and to Thomas, and so on. By the time all twelve disciples had taken some away to serve, Peter came back, and there was still more to hand out. Jesus kept handing out bread and fish, bread and fish, bread and fish, and the disciples kept passing it out, passing it out, passing it out.

Out of a shortage, Jesus produced an abundance. Out of what they assumed was nothing, Jesus produced more than enough. This is our lesson at its simplest. God provides what we need, and if we need more than there appears to be, Jesus will keep on doling out and doling out so that we are provided for. God knows what we need.

17 They ate and all were satisfied.

Both verbs are important. First, they ate. The pronoun “all” governs both verbs, but comes at the end of the clause for emphasis. The whole crowd ate, more (many more) than five thousand of them. Serving the meal probably took a couple of hours, but we have no record of anyone complaining. The impression we get is that the people were happy with what they received. As to the second verb, “they were satisfied,” John adds that “they ate as much as they wanted” (John 6:11). No one went without, and everyone was satisfied. This is also something we need to remember when it comes to the blessings God gives to us. We might not receive precisely what we think we want, but we receive enough for us to be satisfied.

When God performed the same miracle in the Old Testament, he gave the Israelites bread every day, day after day. Moses told the people not to gather too much; only what they needed for each day. “Some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little” (Exodus 16:17). God provided for them. Every single day they had as much as they needed. Some families began to grow, and children were born, but there was still always enough of the manna. This is the lesson Jesus wants us to remember. There will be enough for us when we pray for God to “Give us today our daily bread.”

Luther said:

Daily bread includes everything that we need for our bodily welfare, such as food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land and cattle, money and goods, a godly spouse, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace and order, health, a good name, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Then they picked up twelve basketfuls of the broken pieces that were left over.

The kophinos (κόϕινος) was a personal basket carried by travelers. Often made of tough woven fabric just a little softer than wicker, descriptions of it always remind me of an oriole’s nest. These baskets were undoubtedly what the disciples used to serve the food to each of the many groups. Now, with more left over than they started with, each of the twelve disciples had a meal for himself. The etiquette of the day said that the host served, and then ate after his guests had been satisfied. However, there was no thirteenth basket. Jesus gave his disciples the opportunity for each of them to share something with their Lord. Otherwise, after feeding the five thousand, Jesus himself would have gone hungry.

What just happened? I wonder whether any of the disciples were asking themselves that question as the people, now satisfied both body and spirit, disappeared over the surrounding hills. Alone once again with the Lord, did it seem like a dream? Jesus left them proof that it had taken place. Just as Moses had Aaron store a jar of manna in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 16:33-34), so also Jesus gave each of his disciples physical proof that the miracle had taken place.

In this miracle, Jesus displays his divine power and his compassion for human need. He teaches us to trust in him for all of our needs.

  “Trust in him at all times, O people;
  pour out your hearts to him,
  for God is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 62:8)

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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