(Mark 6:35-44) The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand men gives us six church growth principles.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” (Genesis 1:26) Jesus tells us, “God is Spirit.” (John 4:24) We have been created spirit, soul, and body in the likeness of God. (I Thessalonians 5:23) We are spirit beings having individual personalities living in a natural body. For this reason, we have an intense desire for spiritual experiences. This is the reason countries that are governed by atheists are filled with people practicing the occult. It’s human nature to seek things spiritual.
Jesus understood our hunger to experience the supernatural and used miracles to communicate to the multitude. The apostle John called the miracles which Jesus did “signs.” (John 6:2) A sign gives information, it points us in the right direction. Jesus was doing more than healing diseased bodies and feeding hungry people. He was pointing them toward God.
Jesus never worked a miracle without first asking the people involved to do something. He then responded to their response. God always works this way. When Jesus asks for something how should we respond? We should give Him everything! He can only multiply the things we give to Him. God responds to our devotion. The question remains; If the little boy had failed to give Jesus his loaves and fishes, would Jesus have fed the multitude? He would have found another way to feed them, but the little boy would not have been part of the miracle.
Churches fail to grow because they don’t experience God’s supernatural power. They don’t experience God’s power because they fail to devote themselves to Him. It’s not enough for people to experience a brilliant display of talent when they go to worship. We can hire talent for a few dollars, but we can’t buy miracles. People don’t go to church to be entertained; they go to experience God. The people who followed Jesus into the desert came because of their desperation. It’s the same today. People are seeking the supernatural.
When the disciples gave the loaves and fishes to Jesus, He did three things.
The blessing is extremely important. Everyone needs God’s blessings in their lives. We desperately need the favor of God. Without God’s blessing on our lives something extremely important is missing.
What does God bless? God blesses the things we devote to Him. Give everything to Jesus. We’re tempted to think our gift is too small to really matter, but that isn’t true. God can feed a multitude with five loaves and two fishes. Don’t worry about the size of your gift. Little is much when God is in it.
There are things in our lives that need to be broken. Our pride is one of them. True humility comes from our pride being broken before the greatness of God. But we can’t endure the breaking if we haven’t experienced God’s blessings. The breaking is always a painful experience, but it’s in the breaking where we experience the supernatural power of God’s multiplication. When Jesus broke the bread, He wasn’t holding two pieces of one loaf of bread. No, rather He was holding two new loaves of bread. It’s in the breaking where God multiplies our effectiveness. We’ve been broken to become a blessing. It’s in the breaking where people experience the authenticity of our message. Pride is not only offensive to God; it’s also offensive to people. People tolerate our great gifts despite our pride, but ultimately, as our gifts fade, they reject and leave us because our pride pushes them away.
Jesus didn’t feed the multitude directly. He gave them bread and fish to His disciples and they fed the multitude one group at a time. He delegated the responsibility of feeding to His disciples. We need to learn from His example. God is our source, but we are the distributors of His resources. Jesus still uses His disciples to feed hungry people. We are laborers together with God. It is amazing that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. God works the miracles, but we are responsible to distribute them.