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Do you still remember your multiplication tables from grade school? Your third-grade teacher sure hopes you do! Whether you remember up to 12×12 or not, the greatest benefit of the multiplication system is that it allows you to solve your problem faster than you could through simple addition. There is a captivating story in Matthew 14 where Jesus performs a miracle of multiplication demonstrating both His power and God’s desire to answer prayer – often beyond the way anyone anticipated!
Jesus and His disciples were headed to a remote area to get some much-needed rest, but a huge crowd followed them. Moved by compassion, Jesus began to teach and heal the sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to Jesus with some problems: they were in a remote place (there’s no food around), it was getting late (it’s hard to walk home in the dark), and the people were going to need something to eat. The disciples’ solution was to end the day of ministry and send people home.
Jesus’ response is so interesting in verse 18, “But Jesus said, ‘That isn’t necessary—you feed them.’”
The Bible says there are 5,000 men plus women and children, and so the disciples’ response to Jesus’ instruction seems reasonable, “‘But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!’ they answered.”
In other words, we don’t have enough resource for what you’re asking us to do Jesus! Jesus responds plainly, “Bring them here.” Jesus tells the disciples to bring Him what they have because Jesus knows that our “only” is God’s “opportunity.” When we have less than what’s needed to do what God’s called us to do, it’s a great opportunity for a miracle of multiplication!
Jesus takes the five loaves of bread and two fish and gives thanks. Instead of complaining about their lack, Jesus responds with gratitude for what’s been provided. When we choose an attitude of gratitude, even when we lack sufficient resource, it moves the heart of God and becomes the soil in which a miracle can grow.
Verse 19 says, “Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, He gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.” The Bible doesn’t say that food for 10,000-15,000 suddenly appeared, but instead that as they distributed the food, it was multiplied. When you and I bring what we have to Jesus and then begin moving towards what He instructed us to do, the miracle of multiplication begins.
This miracle provides such an important principle for us to understand: when God speaks something to your heart, look at what He’s already placed in your hand, give thanks for it, and then begin to move. It’s through our obedience that God multiplies what we have and does a miracle of multiplication.
Matthew 14:13-21 (NIV)
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”