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Faith and Feedings
Photo: Salvador Ceja
I love 20/20 hindsight. It enables me to quickly jump to conclusions regarding the mistakes of various Bible characters. From my vantage point, I clearly see the error of their ways and the choices they should have made. Yet, the more of life that I experience, the more I must admit that I might have reacted the very same ways since my own mistakes closely mirror the ones I hastily criticize.

This process of criticism followed by realization played itself out during my recent study of Matthew 14 and 15. In these chapters, Matthew tells of Jesus’ miraculous feedings of two very large crowds. The first was the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-21, and the second was the feeding of the 4,000 in Matthew 15:29-39. Both instances found Jesus ministering to the crowds in remote areas where food was not readily accessible as stomachs began to growl.

In the first incident, the disciples note the lateness of the hour and the remoteness of the location and suggest that Jesus dismiss the people to find food in time for dinner. Jesus quickly responds telling them to feed the people. Understandably, they puzzle over how to feed 5,000 men (plus women and children) with a boy’s meager lunch. Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish, tells the crowd to sit, blesses the food, breaks the bread, and gives the miraculously multiplying morsels to the disciples who distribute them. Once everyone eats to satisfaction, the disciples collect 12 baskets of leftovers. Who could possibly forget such an impressive act?

Where was Their Faith?

I’m not sure how much time passes between Matthew 14:21 and Matthew 15:29, but it couldn’t have been much—certainly not enough for the disciples to have forgotten Jesus’ provision the last time thousands of people needed a meal. Here they are again, on a different remote mountainside with a different crowd (mostly Gentile this time), but under surprisingly similar circumstances. After three days spent healing and teaching 4,000 men (plus women and children), Jesus expresses concern to the disciples that the people will collapse on the way home unless they eat first. Seemingly shocked, the disciples answer, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” (Matthew 15:33). Where was their faith in Jesus’ ability to provide? (Even if it was for a group of Gentiles instead of Jews.) To make a long story short, Jesus proceeds to stretch seven loaves and a few small fish to satisfy the crowd with seven baskets of leftovers.

Before coming down too hard on Jesus’ 12 relatively new disciples, I regretfully recall the faithless incidents of my own experience. God has certainly provided for me many times, yet, when the next seemingly insurmountable obstacle arises, why do I so often doubt?  God’s provision is sure, I have only to trust.

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By Hannah Henry. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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