What has mustard to do with feeding 5,000?
Updated: Oct 23, 2021
Description: Jesus feeding 5,000 people is well known. However he first told his disciples, ‘You feed them.’ Maybe this is why we need mustard seeds.
The story of Jesus feeding a multitude of 5,000 men (plus women and children) is amazing – it’s a miracle. A second miracle occurred when Jesus fed 4,000 (plus women and children). This is not the same story retold with a little variation.
Luke tells us that the feeding of the 5,000 took place near Bethsaida (Luke 9.10). This was a Jewish area at the northernmost tip of the Sea of Galilee. The feeding of the 4,000 occurred at the southern end in the gentile region of the Decapolis (Mark 7.31).
Back to the 5,000
Jesus told his disciples to give them something to eat themselves. Quite an ask! Not surprisingly, they jibbed at this and pointed out that only five loaves and two fish were available. They also lamented how much it would cost to go and buy enough for everyone.
As we know, Jesus took the little they had and made it enough. He made it more than enough because they loaded up twelve baskets with left over pieces (Luke 9.17). Jesus did a great deal with nothing much at all – and I guess this is the message for us.
God is prepared to take the little we can offer and multiply it. We don’t have to do it all alone. We should be in a relationship with Jesus and able to trust him, knowing that wherever he leads he also provides. Even better, he doesn’t expect us to always get it right first time. He’s more than willing to show us again. Remember that second miracle of feeding the 4,000. Jesus might have expected his disciples to recall how the 5,000 was fed, but no. They repeated their same question and heard Jesus give the same response. They were slow to realise just how powerful Jesus was, and is.
Our comfort is this
If we’re faced with a difficult task and feel completely out of our depth, Jesus is there. But we have to go to him and ask for help. We also need to reflect on the extent to which we’re being obedient and following his will. After all, we can’t reasonably expect God to wholeheartedly back us if we’re pursuing nothing more than our own personal hopes and aspirations (and neglecting his!).
Aligning our hearts with his is an essential step; this is where the mustard seed comes in.
Matthew 17:20-21 tells us that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for us. All we have to do is remember that we’re in a relationship with Jesus. He fed thousands from just tiny amounts of bread and fish. Just image what he can do with our tiny mustard seed of faith!
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Picture attribution: Lars-Goran Ronnberg via Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing, and FreeBibleimages.