You’ve probably heard the account of Jesus feeding of the 5,000–all these people getting hungry, no food, doubting disciples, and Jesus miraculously multiplying the five loaves and two fish to not just feed everyone but have much left over as well (Matthew 14:13-21).
Notice that the phrase “desolate place” occurs twice (verses 13 & 15) in this passage. That’s part of the setting. A desolate place and hungry people.
Now fast forward to Matthew 15:32-39 where the feeding of the 4,000 is recorded. This situation is similar but different from the feeding of the 5,000 (Jesus acknowledges both in Matthew 16:9-10). The similarity is that people are gathered to hear Jesus teach and they are hungry (16:32). Jesus told his disciples that he had compassion for those hungry people and desired to feed them.
But look at what the disciples ask Jesus right after he says that: “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?”
Wait-WHAT??!!! Did they already forget what happened possibly within just a week prior?
- The desolate place.
- Enough food.
- So great a crowd.
ALL of that was true for the feeding of the 5,000. Two desolate places. Enough? There was more than enough–12 leftover baskets in fact (14:20). So great a crowd? They just saw a great crowd miraculously fed.
Somehow, all of a sudden, the circumstances blinded the disciples from God’s faithfulness and the power of Christ.
Does this happen in your life? You have seen God provide and have seen his grace over and over. But for some reason, when that difficult situation confronts you, you somehow go blind to His faithfulness.
Find great comfort in 2 Timothy 2:13: “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” The context of that passage contrasts denying Christ with being faithless. The ESV Study Bible footnote says that being faithless is a temporary lapse in trusting Christ, for which there is still hope because Christ is faithful to pardon, restore, and keep those who are truly his.
Even when we find ourselves like the disciples having a temporary lapse in trusting Christ, there is still grace and forgiveness. Right after the disciples ask Jesus how they could feed so many people, Jesus doesn’t just slap them across the face and say don’t you remember last week??!!
No, our gracious Savior lovingly said, “How many loaves do you have?” Grace on display! The Lord could look into your circumstances and calmly ask you to tell him all about it, then trust Him, and rely on His grace for every situation.