May 1, 2022 Twelve Baskets Full

Twelve Baskets Full

May 1, 2022




Scripture reading: Matthew 14:13-21.


When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded because he spoke the truth, verse 13 says that he withdrew to a desolate place by Himself. This was a practice that our Lord often engaged in: solitude. Solitude is a spiritual discipline that every Christian needs to practice. We considered this discipline not too long ago. (If you missed that message, I encourage you to read it or watch it: “Jesus Withdrew” from March 20, 2022)


Although he was practicing solitude, the crowd followed him to where he was. When he saw them he had compassion upon them. He healed the sick among them.


In verse 15 we read:


Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”[1]


The disciples saw a need, that the people should eat. To meet this need they proposed that Jesus send the crowd into the villages to buy food. Their idea was to ask the people to do something. But this was not the Lord’s idea.


But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”[2]


The Lord’s idea was to give the people something to enjoy. This is grace! This is the higher way. Our tendency is that of the disciples, to ask people to do things. Sometimes that can be appropriate. But, the better way is for us to give them what they need. That is grace. It is the way the Lord most often deals with us, isn’t it? We come to the end of ourselves. We try to do something but it doesn’t work. We are hungry just like the crowd. We are hungry for a provision. We could be hungry for love. Whatever our hunger, the Lord is the Giver.


But see what Jesus said. He said to the disciples, “you give them something to eat.” Just as the Lord is gracious to us, we can be gracious to others. Yes, they might be able to help themselves by going into the village. But the higher way is for you, a disciple, to give them something. This is grace!


How did the disciples reply? They tell the Lord that they only have five loaves and two fish. When you are about to exercise grace you will see that you have nothing. If you simply tell others what they need to do then you will never see how poor you are. You know what others need to do. But what do you have to give? Having a giving heart is more precious to the Lord than your knowledge!


To be under grace is to see our lack. When we see our own lack we appreciate grace all the more!


Of the five loaves and two fish Jesus says, “Bring them to me.” Whatever we have of the Lord we need to bring to the Lord that it might become a great blessing to others. In the natural way of looking at things we may think that what we have or what we can do for another is completely inadequate. Yet, when the Lord blesses it, it becomes not only sufficient, but far more than sufficient! It becomes a miracle.


No matter how little we have, we need to offer it to the Lord. If we put what we have in the Lord’s hands, amazing things will happen!


Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.[3]


Jesus spoke a blessing upon the loaves and the fish and a miracles occurred. We need to be those who also speak a blessing. Yet, we ought to be careful. First, there is a teaching out there, promoted by the so-called “faith movement,” that says that we have the power to create things by our words just as God does. Not only is that a false doctrine, but it is more like new age metaphysics than biblical faith. “Creating your own reality” is the stuff of Oprah Winfrey and her guests, it is not Christian.


See what our Lord Himself did when he blessed this food. He looked up to heaven! That is, he called upon God the Father to fulfill the blessing. He did not depend upon Himself. When you give a blessing, you are calling upon the Lord to grant it.


Second, we ought to discriminate with respect to those who may receive a blessing and who may not. Jesus blessed the food on behalf of the people because they were hungry for God’s word. They had followed Jesus and spent the entire day listening to his teaching.


Do not lay hands upon anyone hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself pure.[4]


When we bless others, especially when we lay hands upon others, there is some kind of identification with the other person. There is some kind of sharing of life. It is rather mysterious and the Scriptures never explain it, but there is some kinship with the one who blesses and the one who receives the blessing. Therefore, we ought to know something about the person to whom we wish to confer a blessing, and we ought not to bless people willy-nilly.


Then the miracle occurs. Well over 5,000 were fed by five loaves and two fish! This miracle is another among many which prove that Jesus is who he claimed to be, the incarnate Son of God and Savior of the world! (Hebrews 2:3-4; Acts 2:22)


Our passage says that all ate and were satisfied. Jesus brought them satisfaction! When the crowd was done feasting, the left-overs filled up twelve baskets! This shows that the provision of the Lord Jesus is unlimited and inexhaustible! His provision for you is abundant!


In this true account, we can identify with the crowd, because we are often fed by the Lord, and we can identify with the disciples because we have been called to bless others.


What we offer to the Lord may be very little, but the blessing will be great, and the overflow, the surplus, will be greater than what we offered.[5]


Consider this: what the disciples began with was barely enough to feed themselves! Does it seems like five loaves and only two fish would be enough to feed thirteen people? I don’t think so. These would have been fresh water fish, not ocean fish, and so would not have been very large. Let’s put it this way. The thirteen would have eaten but probably not eaten until satisfied. But, after the Lord’s blessing, they were not only the channel to bless others, but they themselves were also satisfied!


See this principle! What you have, though small, can be multiplied by the Lord to bless others and satisfy you at the same time! There is a bounty from the Lord waiting for you! It is a fact!


They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,

And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord

Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,

And over the young of the flock and the herd;

And their life will be like a watered garden,

And they will never languish again.[6]


Bible commentators disagree on whether Jeremiah here foretells of the re-gathering of Israel after their restoration from the Babylonian captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah or whether it refers to a re-gathering of Israel in the end times. Regardless as to which re-gathering Jeremiah prophesies, see that the bounty that is available has to do with physical blessings: food, wine, oil, abundant flocks, and a pleasant life.


God is still in the physical blessing business! This is evident through many New Testament passages (e.g., Matt. 6:33). “When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word, what a glory he sheds on our way!” When you are walking in the Lord’s will, you can expect to receive blessings in even the mundane things of life!


This principle, that the small things that you have will be used by the Lord to bless others and even bring you satisfaction, holds true in the spiritual realm too! Jesus affords the life-supply to satisfy our hunger for truth, righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17).


Are you enjoying the life-supply? The life-supply is available! How do you get it? The same way that these disciples did. You must start with something, even if small. The problem that some modern day disciples have is that they do not even have five loaves and two fish. You must start with something!


When it comes to truth, righteousness, and enjoyment – these things are found in God’s word.


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [7]


Truth is found in God’s word!


Knowing what is right and good (a practical righteousness) comes from familiarity with God’s word!


Gladness, or enjoyment, comes from the presence of the Lord and his presence is experienced whenever we feed upon his word (Acts 2:28, 42).


The life-supply is found in God’s word! It is really just Christ Himself coming to you in the written word because he is the Living Word.


But, let me say again: you must start with five loaves and two fishes. If you don’t’ start, you can’t be blessing to others and you will remain unsatisfied.


The disciples being able to gather twelve baskets full of leftovers shows that, when the Lord blesses, there is an abundance. There is a bounty! This fullness is two-fold. There is a bounty for all our material needs. How is this truth different from what the so-called “faith teachers” promote? - the health-and wealth proponents who teach that “your best life is now.” Here is the difference: the health-and-wealth gospel teaches that it is always God’s will for you to be prosperous and healthy and, if you are not, then this shows a lack of faith on your part. It is all your fault if you are not wealthy and if you are not healthy. Not only is that not what the Bible teaches but that is a destructive doctrine causing discouragement and perpetuating failure.


The truth is that it is God’s will for you to be prosperous and for you to healthy. But we must know that there are matters more important than prosperity and health. What is more important? Your sanctification! That is, above all, it is God’s will to conform your thoughts and your heart to that of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes this will entail a lack. Sometimes this will entail poor health. God uses these things to transform us!


But know this! When we are in God’s will and helping others then the abundance will come!


The fullness will also come when we help others with “treasures new and old.” When we use our loaves and fishes – our own enjoyment of the word – to feed others, we ourselves will receive an abundance and a satisfaction of peace and joy!


Our Lord said to his own: “You give them something to eat.” He is saying to you: “You give them something to eat.”


Give someone something to eat this week! Gather your loaves and fishes today and gather them tomorrow morning, too! Then give someone something to eat!





[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 14:15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 14:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 14:19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (1 Ti 5:22). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[5] This excellent statement is from Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Volume Four (Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA; 1998), 519.

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Je 31:12). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:31–32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.