That evening the disciples came to Jesus and said, “This place is like a desert, and it is already late. Let the crowds leave, so they can go to the farms and villages near here and buy something to eat.” Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.” But they asked him, “Don’t you know that it would take almost a year’s wages to buy all of these people something to eat?” Then Jesus said, “How much bread do you have? Go and see!” They found out and answered, “We have five small loaves of bread and two fish.” Jesus told his disciples to have the people sit down on the green grass. They sat down in groups of a hundred and groups of fifty. Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and handed it to his disciples to give to the people. He also divided the two fish, so that everyone could have some. After everyone had eaten all they wanted, Jesus’ disciples picked up twelve large baskets of leftover bread and fish. There were five thousand men who ate the food.
When we think of our great God, we often think of Him in terms of the grand, the great and the glorious. After all, He is the God of creation. He stood in the middle of nothing, took nothing, and created everything. That is big!
He is the God of revelation. He sent His perfect Word through human instruments, giving us a perfect, inspired record of His words to man. On top of that, He has perfectly preserved that Word to this very day. That is big
He is the God of salvation. God sent His Son Jesus into this world to die for sin and for sinners. When Jesus went to the cross, He opened a way that all that would come to Jesus at God’s invitation would be saved. God even set it up so that those who came would have all their sins forgiven; they would be adopted into His family; and they would all go to Heaven to live with Him when they leave this world. Now, that is big!
There is no question that we serve a God Who specializes in the spectacular, Who majors in the miraculous and Who operates in omnipotence. But I would also point out that He is also Lord Of The Little! He is a God Who moves in big ways, but He is also a God Who can take the small, insignificant things of this world and use them for His glory.
The passage before us reveals The Lord Of The Little in action. As we watch Jesus feed the multitudes, we need to remember that the One Who accomplished this miracle is our Lord today. What He did then, He can do now. He was the Lord of the little on that day and He is still the Lord of the little today.
Let us look in on this special miracle today. By the way, it must have been incredibly special. It is the only miracle of Jesus that is mentioned by all four Gospel writers. There is some help here that we do not want to miss. Let me show you some examples from this text where Jesus proves that He is The Lord Of The Little.
I: v. 35-36 HE IS THE LORD OF LITTLE FEARS
A: The Context – The people have followed Jesus to the other side of the lake, v. 33. Jesus has spent the day teaching them and the hour is growing late, v. 35. The disciples come to Jesus and interrupt His teaching and they demand that He send the people away so they can find food to eat, v. 36.
These men are afraid that the people will not be able to find any food to eat if the hour grows any later. Evidently, they are tired and hungry themselves and they assume that the people must be as well. After all, the crowds had followed Jesus as soon as He left the other side of the lake and they had not taken time to pack any food for the trip.
Now, they are ten miles away from home. They are in a deserted location. They are in a place where no food is to be found. The disciples say, “Lord, You’ve preached long enough! Dismiss the service and let these people go find some food!”
The disciples are filled with doubt and fear. If Jesus keeps this up, none of them are going to get a bite to eat! So, they go to Him expressing their doubts and their fears.
B: Here are a few questions:
- Do you ever look at the situations you face in life and become afraid and full of doubt?
- Do you look at a lost family member and wonder if they will ever be saved?
- Do you ever look at a physical need and wonder if it will be all right or if it will lead to something worse?
- Are you ever afraid to open the mailbox because it might contain another bill?
- Are you ever afraid to answer the phone because it might be a bill collector?
- Do you ever scan the days of your life and wonder how much time you have left?
- Do you ever look at the condition of the world and become afraid, wondering how it will all turn out?
- What I am asking is this: Do you ever have fears?
We all do! Being afraid of the unknown is part of living in this world. Having doubts and concerns is nothing to be ashamed of; it is something we all deal with. The problem arises when we become like the disciples.
They were in the presence of the Lord of Glory, but they did not believe that He could handle the situation. To their eyes, it looked impossible. They were not coming to Jesus in faith; they were coming to Him in fear! They were saying, in so many words, “Lord, this problem is greater than You are! We do not think You can handle it! You had better send these folks away, or we are all going to be in trouble!”
You may have never said those words, but you and I have acted in the same manner. We fret and worry over or problems and we are filled with doubts concerning the Lord’s ability to solve them. Instead of coming to Jesus with a heart that says, “Lord, I believe in You! I know this is a big problem to me, but it is nothing to You!” We carry our problems around and allow them to drain the spiritual life right out of us. I would just remind you that all worry is sin, Rom. 14:23. I would also remind you that the Lord has commanded us to trust Him in the times of fear and to refuse to allow worry a place in our lives, Phil. 4:6-7; Matt. 6:25-34.
C: Our Savior is the Lord of little fears!
Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Preacher, you don’t know my fears! They are not little! They are huge! They are gigantic! They are impossible! They are anything but little!”
That is the same attitude the ten spies had when they went into Canaan and saw giants there. It was an attitude that said, “I don’t care Who God is; He isn’t that big!”
Regardless of the fears you may have today, they are little when they are placed next to the Lord. If He can create the universe out of nothing; surely, He can meet your need! If He can keep Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the fiery furnace, He can take care of you! If He can secure Daniel in the lion’s den, He can take care of you! If He can feed three million Jews in the desert for forty years, He can take care of you! If He can defeat sin, death, Hell, the grave and Satan using an old rugged cross and an empty tomb, He can take care of you! If He can save you from your sins, He can take care of you!
Whatever you fear today, bring it to Him, and leave it in His hand. He is more than able to take care of you, Eph. 3:20.
II: v. 37-38 HE IS THE LORD OF LITTLE FAITH
A: The Context – When Jesus hears the fears of His men, He says, “Well, you men feed them!” He is using a direct order! He is saying, “If they are hungry, give them something to eat!”
This command is immediately met with an expression of absolute unbelief. From John’s Gospel, we know that Philip is the one who speaks, John 6:7. He says, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.”
A “penny” refers to the “denarius”, which was a day’s wages for the average worker. It would have taken the average worker eight months to earn the amount of money Philip is talking about. In modern terms it was about $10,000.00. It was more money than they had and more than could ever hope to collect on short notice.
Philip is saying, “Lord, even if we had $10,000.00, we couldn’t satisfy all these people. We could not even give them all a taste. It’s impossible!”
B: Jesus said, “Feed them!” The disciple answered and said, “We can’t! We do not have the resources. This a problem that cannot be solved!” These men considered their problem and they summed it up as insurmountable! In their eyes, they were facing an impossible challenge.
It did not matter that they had already seen Jesus turn water into wine; heal lepers; cast out legions of demons; calm violent storms; heal people with incurable diseases; and raise the dead. It did not matter that He had proven Himself to them more times than they could probably remember. All that mattered now was the obstacle they saw before their eyes. They looked at the need and they said, “We can’t, and we don’t believe that You can either!” That is little faith!
C: But let us not be too hard on these disciples. We are as bad, or worse, than they are! Let me ask you a question. “Has God ever failed you? Have you ever had a genuine need that He did not meet? Have you ever seen Him fail to keep one promise that He ever made?” That is three questions, but the fact is, God has never failed us, and He never will.
Didn’t He save your soul and change your life when you asked Him to by faith? Didn’t He forgive your sins and replace the turmoil in your soul with His sweet peace, just because you cried out in faith? Hasn’t He given you assurance after assurance that you belong to Him and that it is well with your soul? If He can do that, it seems to me that He can do anything!
How much faith did you have when you came to Him for salvation? Did you have great faith on that day, or was your faith small, frail, and limited? It was the smallest faith of them all. You did not even have any faith until He gave it to you, Eph. 2:8. Yet that small faith was sufficient to connect you to a big God Who was able to save you based on that faith. When your tiny faith touched His boundless grace, you were saved forever!
D: It does not take great faith to get big answers from the hand of the Lord.
Consider the following truths:
- Matthew 17:20, “…If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
- The father of the demon possessed child – “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” Mark 9:23-24.
- Matthew 21:21-22, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
- God will honor little faith! He is the Lord of little faith. But He can do nothing with unbelief, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavered is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord,” James 1:6-7.
E: When we act like the disciples and look at the problem instead of the Problem Solver, we can expect nothing but failure.
However, when we believe God, even for the impossible, we will see Him do the incredible time after time. Jesus is the Lord of the little, even little faith!
III. v. 39-44 HE IS THE LORD OF LITTLE FOOD
A: The Context – After their display of faithlessness, Jesus asks His men how much food they have. He tells them to go and find out, v. 38. We know from John’s account that all the food that was available in that vast crowd was the small lunch of a young boy, John 6:8-9.
B: All he had was “five loaves and two fishes”. The loaves were not big, long loaves of bread. Rather, they were small round pieces of flat bread. About the same size as a biscuit! The fish were not tuna or barramundi, they were the salted fish that the people of that area ate. They were about the size of sardines. When they return with that small amount, the disciples, this time it is Andrew, expresses even more doubt. He says, “What are they among so many,” John 6:9? These fellows have sized up the crowd and the provisions and they have decided that there just is not enough to go around. And, from a human perspective, they are right!
Watch the text! Jesus does not even flinch. In verse 39 He commands the people to sit down in “companies”. This word literally means “In rows like vegetables in a garden.” Jesus has the people sit down in orderly rows. Their colorful garments making them look like a garden in bloom. That little tidbit does not add much to our understanding of the text, but it does remind us that our God is a God of order!
Then, Jesus “takes” the five loaves and the two fish. He lifts His face toward Heaven, and He blesses the food. By the way, Jesus is not upset that the provisions are so meager. He is not bothered by the small amount of food. He took what was given to Him and He began to break it.
The words “break” and “gave” are important. They indicate that “He kept on breaking and He kept on giving”. Jesus took those little biscuits and sardines, and they were multiplied in His hands. He just kept on breaking them and giving them to His disciples and the loaves and fish kept on multiplying. Jesus exercised creative power to accomplish this miracle.
To feed five thousand men plus women and children, Matt. 14:21, it would have required them to empty their baskets and return to Jesus for refills. Every time they came back, they probably expected to find that Jesus has run out of food. But He never did!
He kept breaking and giving until every person in the crowd had no more desire for food. And, when the disciples took of the leftovers, there were twelve baskets full. One for every doubting disciple!
B: All I am trying to get you to see today is that our Lord is more than enough! He can take the little that you give Him and do miracles with it! That mother who packed that little lunch that day had no idea that it would be used to feed as many as twenty thousand.
Jesus just took what was available and multiplied it for His glory! When we give what we have to Him, He will amaze us with what He can do with it!
When this situation arose, the question from Jesus was, “How are we going to handle this”, John 6:5. There were four responses to that questions:
- Let us get rid of the problem – Mark 6:35-36; Matt. 15:23
- Let us raise more money – John 6:7.
- We have a little, but it will never be enough – John 6:5.
- Let Jesus have it – John 6:11
C: If you can ever learn to bring your little to Jesus and let Him have it, He can use it in a great way for His glory!
- Bring your little faith to Him and watch Him move your mountains.
- Bring your little testimony and watch Him save souls.
- Bring your little praise and watch Him get glory.
- Bring your little abilities to Him and watch Him use you. He specializes in using the small thing to amaze men and to reveal His glory, 1 Cor. 1:27-29!
- He used the cry of a little baby to bring peace to Abraham.
- He used a little stick in the hand of Moses to part the Rea Sea and deliver His people from Pharaoh.
- He used a little boy named David who slung a little stone to remove a big giant.
- He used a little piece of bread called Manna to feed His people for forty years.
- He used a little leather mantle to part the Jordan River for Elijah and Elisha.
- He used a little widow with a little meal and a little oil to take care of the man of God.
- He used a little girl name Mary to bring a little baby into the world, Who would grow up and die on a little cross on a little hill in a little country called Israel. But, in His death, He would provide salvation to all who will receive Him!
- Who knows what He will do with your little if you can just get it into His hands!
- D: Do you have some little something that you need to bring to the Master today? Bring your little and watch Him transform it into a lot! That is His specialty!
(Let us just make one thing clear today. Jesus could have fed the multitude with nothing. He could have made bread and fish float down from the clouds on purple parachutes if He had wanted to. He chose to use what was given to Him for His glory.)
E: Bring your little and place it in His hands today. He will take it and use it in ways you could never imagine.
- Bring your little talents and abilities and watch Him use you.
- Bring your little gifts and watch Him multiply them for His glory.
- Bring your little self and watch Him use you. God specializes in taking this frail, clay bodies and using them for His glory. Without Him, I am just a cracked pot. With Him, I can be a vessel of honor to the glory of God. Get your little into His hands today.
Some liberal theologians have looked at this passage and they have determined that it just could not have happened like the Bible says. After all, it is impossible!
One liberal commentator says that it was an optical illusion. It just appeared that the loaves and fishes were multiplied. Well, optical illusions do not feed twenty thousand people!
Another one says that when the people saw that little boy giving his lunch to Jesus, they were all moved with compassion and they gave their lunches too and there was enough for all with some left over.
Why cannot people just take the Bible at face value? Jesus is the Lord of the Little! He took a little and made a lot out of it!
He is still doing that! If you have a “little” situation you need to bring to Him, now would be a good time.
- If you have walked away from Him, He will restore you to a place of fellowship with Him, if you will come and ask Him.
- He can multiply your “loaves and fishes” if you will just put them in His hand.
- He will use you in ways you never imagined if you will only give Him your little.
The whole point of this miracle was not to feed the multitude. The whole point was to teach those lame-brained, thick-headed disciples that Jesus was more than sufficient for every circumstance in life.
- He is more than sufficient to save.
- He is more than sufficient to forgive.
- He is more than sufficient to take your little and give you a lot in return!
Come to Him right now; put your little in His hands. He is the Lord of the Little!