In the four Gospels, only two of the miracles of Jesus are recorded in all four accounts. His resurrection appears in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as does one other miracle of His; the Feeding of the 5000. I am not suggesting that this miracle is more important than one listed in just one book. The raising of Lazarus from the dead for example only occurs in John’s account and other miracles occur in just one or two Gospels. A number of miracles are listed in all three synoptic works of Matthew, Mark and Luke. But clearly, there must be something of importance for us in the miracle of the Feeding of the 5000 since all four writers included the event.
The Feeding of the 5000 takes up 45 verses in the New Testament. Each Gospel account fills in certain details and taking all four books together as a whole, we can gain a clear picture of what happened.
I think it is important to remember two significant events take place immediately prior to this miracle as both of these events shed some light on why the disciples acted as they did. First, Herod has John the Baptist imprisoned and then beheaded. Two disciples of Jesus were previously disciples of John (John 1:35-40) and no doubt the rest of them knew John and his ministry. Jesus was a relative of John’s so there was a relationship between the two men and their ministries. No doubt John’s sudden death was a traumatic event in the lives of these men.
A second major event which occurs previous to the miracle is the return of the twelve from their first solo missionary endeavor. Jesus has sent them out and giving them specific instructions not to provide anything for themselves but to trust God to meet all their needs. They are successful in their venture by healing many people, casting out demons and calling people to repentance. It was a successful time and they all have returned to tell Him about their time out in the field.
I can only imagine the excitement they had as they returned. Lives were changed, people were healed, those under oppression were released. They probably were encouraged, thrilled and humbled, all at the same time knowing God worked through them.
It is in the wake of these two events, one quite traumatic and negative; and the other very exhilarating and positive, when they gather around Jesus to tell Him “all that they had done” (Luke 8:10).
Luke states Jesus “took them” to a deserted place while Marks says Jesus “said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place.’” Clearly, Jesus wanted them to be in this deserted or desolate place. They of course assume that means their personal time of service is on hold while they have the LORD’s full attention. They might be thinking this will be a time of rest and relaxation; a time to reflect back on what has just happened. But Jesus of course is getting ready to teach them a series of big lessons.
While in no way exhaustive, over the next four blog posts I’ll highlight four lessons, or principles of ministry from this story. Since Mark devotes the greatest amount of verses to the story (15 verses with 350 words as recorded in the NKJV), I’ll use his book as our main source material, letting Matthew, Luke and John add some individual details.
The Feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle of Jesus, besides His resurrection, recorded in all four Gospels. There is something here for us.
In His Service,