Loaves and Fishes
In our family scripture reading this morning, I was struck by one particular verse.
We all know the story of the feeding of the 5000 with only five loaves of bread and a few fishes (See Matt. 14:16-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:11-17; John 6:5-14). Being moved by compassion towards the multitude, Jesus holds a great counsel with his disciples as they try to solve the dilemma of how to feed these people. A young boy holds only the few loaves and fishes and the disciples question how this little amount of food will feed so many. But Jesus takes the food, blesses and gives gratitude for it, and the company is fed. "...and there was taken up of fragments that remained tot them twelve baskets (Luke 9:17)."
Fast forward some verses to Matthew 15 and Mark 8. Here we read of yet another great multitude fed. At this moment the people have been following and listening to the teachings of Jesus for three days. Again, compassion takes a hold of Jesus' heart. He asks the disciples to find food for these people, "for [many] of them came from far" and he is afraid they will faint of hunger on their journey home (Mark 8:3).
And now we come to the verse our family read this morning:
"And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?"
Wait! Didn't they just witness the miracle of feeding the 5000? And this time they are feeding less people (1000 less +/-) with more food (7 loaves of bread and a few fishes)!
I was struck forcefully with how easily we forget the miracles of our God! These faithful disciples had just witnessed such a miracle and still they doubted how it would even be possible to feed this other crowd. They doubted even though they had seen!
Aren't we all like that? I think about my own life and how easily I forget. I think, "There's not way God will do this for me," even though I've seen Him do such things already! Maybe part of my doubt comes because I think, "He did it once, but there's no way He'll do it again." Or I think of my ingratitude at the first few million blessings that I wonder if He truly will keep pouring such down upon me. Either way, it is all too easy to see what is right in front of us and forget the miracles God can perform for and with our lives!
President James E. Faust shares this sentiment, "In our time, we seem to have forgotten the miracle of the five loaves and the two fishes in favor of the miracles wrought by the mind and hand of men [i.e. technology and transportation advances]....With this great knowledge has come also some skepticism about the simple and profound eternal truths taught in the miracle of the loaves and of the fishes - - namely, that God rules in the heavens and the earth through his infinite intelligence and goodness (emphasis added)."
Not only can this story of the loaves and fishes help us remember all the God will do, but we can also see what our small offerings can do for the building up of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
In February of 1881, Elder Henry W. Naisbitt stated,
In looking upon a congregation like the present, I think that every Elder in Israel must feel that from the few small loaves and fishes which he may have accumulated in his experience, he is unable to feed and supply the necessities of the multitude before him. But while he occupies the position, he realizes that the infinite resources of the Holy Spirit are within general reach, and that this can be supplied and so administered as to bring home the little food that may be presented; and that by the processes of its multiplication, every man and every woman, and all the youth who are assembled, may have "their portion of meat in due season," they may go away satisfied and refreshed and fitted for the duties of life and their minds may be expanded as to realize that through the inspiration of the spirit there is more left than appeared at the beginning (JD 22:74).
We may feel we have so little to offer. We may wonder if the Lord is really going to grant a miracle in our lives. But these two beautiful stories, almost back to back, testify that God can and will perform those miracles! Oh, it's so easy to forget. But let's try to remember.
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What of those who have talents equal only to two loaves and one fish? ... If their talents are used to build the kingdom of God and serve others, they will fully enjoy the promises of the Savior.
- - President James E. Faust - -