According to the account in the fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, five thousand people were crowding around him as evening approached. Jesus’ disciples said, “We are in a remote place, it’s getting late. Send the crowd away so that they can go to the villages and buy some food.”
Jesus calmly replied. “They do not have to go away. You give them something to eat” (Matt. 14:15-16, NIV.)
Of course, to the disciples, this was an impossible task. How could they possibly feed all those people? There was no bread. No meat. No kitchens in which to cook. The hungry crowd was quite large, 5,000 men plus women and children.
But Jesus wanted them to learn God’s power over the material world. He wanted a miracle to take place; not in His hands, but in theirs. They were going to perform a miracle that evening in that remote place where no human intervention was possible.
Then he illustrated a key principle in God’s economic plan. He begins with what you have. In the case of Moses, it was a long stick. With a stick, God would defeat the most powerful nation on earth. In the case of the hungry crowd near the Sea of Galilee it was a little boy’s lunch—five flat round cakes of what we would call pita bread, and two small fish.
Jesus took this tiny bit of food and he blessed it. He knew that the same God who created matter in the first place had the power to multiply the matter that was in his hands. Jesus looked up to heaven, prayed a prayer of thanks, and broke the bread. He handed the pieces to his disciples to give to the crowd now sitting on the grass in front of him.
Imagine what was going on in the minds of the disciples. Here were all those hungry people. The disciples held in their hands portions of bread and fish, good enough for a snack for one, maybe two people. Were they fearful of failure? Were their spirits filled with supernatural faith? Were they blindly obedient to the command of Jesus? The Bible is silent on this. Nevertheless, each disciple went out into the crowd and broke off some food and gave it out. To his amazement, the bread and fish grew back. He then broke off some more and gave it away. Immediately, the bread and fish grew back. Time and again this happened until every man, woman, and child had received all they desired to eat.
Again, we have demonstrated the miracle principle. Faith comes from a word of God. Faith then prompts some human action. That action triggers the mighty response of God that we call a miracle. Faith ignores the impossibility of the task, but focuses solely on the word of God.