“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Luke 9:16-17
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” Harry Ironside, American preacher
- Gather your Bible, journal and a pen. Make something warm and delicious to drink. Quiet your heart before the Lord and listen to what He has to say to you today.
- Read Luke 9:10-17
Feeding the Multitude
Thanksgiving. With the exception of Christmas, no other holiday comes with as many expectations as this day that was originally set aside for gratitude for our many blessings. Over time, this day has become less and less about gratitude and more about the perfect meal, the loveliest table settings, happy children, and gravy without those pesky lumps.
That is a lot of pressure. Putting a nutritious meal on the table on a regular basis is hard enough. Now we have to make it extra special and make sure we are all on our best behavior and remember to be thankful for this crazy life. The disciples knew a thing or two about this kind of stress. They were called to feed 5,000 men at the spur of the moment. This was after a difficult few days for Jesus and His friends. They just wanted to get away from it all and rest. Instead, there was a crowd of over 5,000 men, women, and children who wanted teaching, healing, and needed food. Sound a bit familiar? We may not know what it is like to have to feed 5,000 people, but we sure do know about the constant demands on our time and resources. Sometimes, it feels like we have to feed a multitude when we prepare for Thanksgiving dinner!
Luke 9:12 teaches us how the disciples wanted to handle the demands of the crowds. They wanted to send them away! I personally have thought the same thing over some holidays. It makes logical sense. Everyone was tired and hungry, and there was no way there was enough food and resources to make everyone happy. So, the thought of sending everyone away seemed to make sense given the limitations of the moment.
Jesus, however, had a different plan. You see, he is not limited. Nothing stands in the way of the Master when he wants to bless His people. Instead of looking around at what they were lacking, Jesus looked to the Father to see what He could provide. Jesus knew that the resources of heaven and the love of the Father would be more than enough.
Listen in as Jesus teaches us about feeding a crowd when there is not enough of anything to go around:
“He replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They answered, ‘We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.’ (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, ‘Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” (Luke 9:13-17)
Jesus didn’t rebuke the disciples for wanting to send the crowds away. Instead, He gently reminded them of where their provision came from. He got everyone organized in groups, He asked the Father for a blessing on the meal, and He made sure everyone had enough to eat. God provided so abundantly that there were 12 baskets of leftovers!
When we look to the Lord for our provision, He gives us exactly what we need (Luke 11:13). When we ask for his blessings on his gifts, He reminds us that all good and perfect gifts are from above (James 1:17). When things, and people, feel out of control, He tells us to get organized and stay focused (Luke 9:14).
Our holidays rarely go as planned. Jesus and His disciples were not planning on hosting a big event on the side of a hill. They were tired and worn out. I know that feeling. Sometimes, the demands of the day seem so much larger than what I can handle. I just want to order a pizza and curl up on my sofa and watch Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. But sometimes, God asks me to get out of my comfort zone and feed a multitude. What do I do then?
I try to follow the example of Jesus. I ask for God’s blessing on my efforts. I remember to look at His provision instead of focusing on what I am lacking. And I do my best to get everyone organized and sitting down! After that, I am free to share God’s abundance with everyone at my table. The table may look different than what I thought it would. The meal may not be perfectly prepared. And, the gravy may have a few lumps. That’s just fine. We all have a few lumps!
What matters is that you have included God in your meal. He is the one who makes the difference in your Thanksgiving. He is the one who gives you the strength to pull it all together and even to pick up the leftovers. He is the one who taught us to be truly grateful for all of our blessings.
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- In which areas are you trying to accomplish tasks on your own? Even Jesus enlisted the help of His friends to pull off His big dinner.
- In which areas do you need to keep it simple? Dinner doesn’t have to be a huge meal with multiple courses. It does need to have the blessing of God and the focus on feeding the people at your table.
Pray and ask the Lord what He would have you do this Thanksgiving. Maybe He wants you to host a big meal. Maybe He wants you to serve the less fortunate at a local shelter. Maybe He wants you to invite a new neighbor into your home. Ask God before planning anything!
Consider how you can enlist the help from others. Small children can be helpful with non-breakable decorations. Friends and family can share the cooking. Grandparents can be invaluable with their wisdom and perspective when keeping the little ones entertained. And your mother-in-law may just know how to make the perfect gravy!