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Hidden Meaning of Five Loaves and Two Fish
Dear Brother Xiangyin,
In a moment, we have parted for two years. Is everything going well? Since you preached to me the gospel of the Lord Jesus two years ago, I have been devoutly studying the Bible, and attending meetings according to a schedule, I feel that I have achieved some results. Especially from the verse I read recently that the Lord fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish, I see God’s unique authority and power, so that myincreases greatly and I believe even more firmly that the Lord I believe in is the only true God. But pondering it over I wonder: Is the purpose of the Lord Jesus in performing this miracle just for us to see the authority of God? The things God does contain His intention, so within this miracle there should be truth to seek. Then I sought this from the brothers and sisters around me, but none of them gave a sufficient answer. Today, I’m writing to ask whether you have new insights on this matter. If you do, please write to communicate with me so that we can learn from each other.
I’m looking forward to receiving your reply.
Your Brother in the Lord, Yi’en
Dear Brother Yi’en,
I’m glad to receive your letter. It’s been two years since we last met and I miss you very much. Thanks to the Lord’s companion, everything is OK, so don’t worry about me. Over the two years I’ve always been engaged in doing service in the church and have experienced many things through the Lord’s guidance. Thank the Lord! From your question I see your growth in life. You are so serious about the truth; this is really the Lord’s blessing. The Lord said, “For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10). May the Lord lead our fellowship this time so we can understand more of His will.
Let’s read John 6:10–13 first: “And, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.”
It can indeed be seen from the miracle that the Lord Jesus possesses the unique authority and that He is omnipotent. This is even more proof of the Lord Jesus’ identity and status: The Lord Jesus was God incarnate Himself. But what thoughts of the Lord Jesus were actually contained behind the miracle? I once read several passages of words in a book, which are helpful for us to understand this question.
The words say: “When the Lord Jesus saw these five thousand people, they were hungry and could only think of eating their fill, so it was in this context that the Lord Jesus satisfied their wishes. When He satisfied their wishes, what was in His heart? What was His attitude toward these people that only wanted to eat their fill? At this time, the Lord Jesus’ thoughts and His attitude had to do with God’s disposition and essence. Facing these five thousand people with empty stomachs who only wanted to eat a full meal, facing these people full of curiosity and hopes about Him, the Lord Jesus only thought of utilizing this miracle to bestow grace upon them. However, He did not get His hopes up that they would become His followers, for He knew that they just wanted to get in on the fun and to eat their fill, so He made the best of what He had there, and used five loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand people. He opened the eyes of these people who enjoyed entertainment, who wanted to see miracles, and they saw with their own eyes the things that God incarnate could complete. … Even though these people did not know who He was or understand Him, or have any particular impression of Him or gratitude toward Him even after they had eaten the loaves and fish, this wasn’t something that God took issue with—He gave these people a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the grace of God.”
“So did He make any requirements of these people? Was there any hatred? There were none of these—He just no longer wanted to pay any mind to these people who could not follow Him, and at this time His heart was in pain. Because He had seen the depravity of mankind and He had felt mankind’s rejection of Him, and when He saw these people or He was with them, human obtuseness and ignorance made Him very sad and left His heart in pain, so He only wanted to leave these people as quickly as possible. The Lord didn’t have any requirements of them in His heart, He did not want to pay them any mind, He particularly did not want to expend His energy on them, and He knew they could not follow Him—in spite of all this, His attitude toward them was still very clear. He just wanted to treat them kindly, to bestow them with grace—this was God’s attitude toward every creature under His rule: for every creature, treat them kindly, provide for them, nourish them. For the very reason that the Lord Jesus was God incarnate, He very naturally revealed God’s own essence and treated these people kindly. He treated them kindly with a heart of mercy and tolerance” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III”).
From these words, we see the five thousand people who ate their fill did not truly follow the Lord or seek to know the Lord. They just wanted to open their eyes out of curiosity after they heard of the things done by the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus knew that after eating their fill they could not become His true followers, but instead of detesting, rejecting or not providing for them because they would not follow Him, the Lord Jesus treated them kindly. He treated those who were distant from Him with a heart of mercy. From this we see that God’s essence is love. Regardless of whether people follow God or not, God is full of mercy and grace to them, giving them food to keep them alive in the world created by God.
Additionally, this miracle lets us see the Lord Jesus’ heart was in pain. When He came among those who ate their fill, none of them could understand His will or know His heart’s voice. They all just wanted to see His power and ask for grace from Him. The Lord Jesus had seen man’s pity and depravity, and man’s rejection of Him. At that time, His heart was extremely in pain. So neither did He want to stay there, nor did he want to do say more words or express God’s will to them as He did to His disciples who truly followed Him. So after these people ate their fill, the Lord Jesus immediately left, bearing alone the pain that mankind brought to Him. These are the thoughts of the Lord Jesus that we can see.
These five thousand people were those who ate their fill. Then, among us who follow the Lord today, are there people who eat their fill? After observing closely, we’ll find that there are also many. Amongst us believers in the Lord, some regard believing in the Lord as a spiritual sustenance and use it to fill their spiritual emptiness. Some believe in the Lord just for receiving grace from Him, so that they can work smoothly, their family can be safe, and so on. Some read the Bible every day but never comply with the Lord’s words in practice; they just want to keep following the Lord like before, unreasonably desiring everlasting life and entry into the heavenly kingdom. … Are people as such not those who eat their fill and rely on grace for salvation? Could such faith in the Lord receive His commendation? Is it different from that of the five thousand people who were fed by the Lord Jesus?
Then, why did the Lord Jesus speak many words to the disciples who followed Him at that time? This was because the majority of them truly followed and pursued knowing the Lord. Especially Apostle Peter, he was a model and pioneer for loving God. He paid attention to the words of the Lord Jesus, knew his own deficiencies in the Lord’s words, and sought his own entry. This way, he gained more enlightenment from God, understood more truths, became the one that obeyed God, knew God, and loved God, and in the end was crucified upside down for God. So the Lord especially fixed His eyes on Peter: He entrusted God’s sheep to Peter to shepherd and handed the key of heavenly kingdom to Peter. From this we can see those who truly believe in God and pursue the truth are able to receive His commendation, truth, and life. Rather, for those who eat their fill, they can only receive some grace because of God’s mercy but not God’s commendation. Since they don’t love the truth at all, nor seek to know God or love God, such people won’t gain truth or life eventually. From that, it can be seen: God is principled in treating different people, and this is decided by His righteousness. So if we want to obtain the Lord’s commendation, then we can’t be simply content to eat our fill when believing in God, or have any extravagant desire for God. Instead, we should entrust our heart to God, put in more effort on understanding and practicing the Lord’s words. If we do thus continually, God will surely guide us to gain more.
Brother Yi’en, could such fellowship help you understand a little of God’s intention behind the miracle of five loaves and two fish?
Brother in the Lord, Xiangyin
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