- Lesson 8 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Miracles: The Transforming Power of Jesus” focuses on Matthew 14:14-21.
The Old Testament tells the story of how God tested Abraham’s faith by challenging him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac (Genesis 22:1–19). In response to Abraham’s unquestioning obedience, God stepped in to spare Isaac by providing an acceptable substitute sacrifice, a ram ensnared by bushes.
This account introduced a new name for God—Yahweh-Yireh (God Provides). The full meaning of the name does not imply that God responds to needs as they arise, but rather that God sees ahead and has already made provision for a need before it even comes up.
His disciples knew Jesus as a teacher and healer whose authority came from God. Jesus wanted to open their eyes to the truth that he was the same Yahweh-Yireh who had provided the ram for Abraham’s sacrifice. It was no harder for Jesus to heal the sick, raise the dead or feed a multitude of thousands than it was for him to increase the faith of a group of bewildered disciples.
When the disciples surrendered to Jesus their meager store of food, he gave thanks for God’s provision. The miracle was already in progress before Jesus began to pull apart the first piece of bread. That is the true nature of faith. It rests in the certainty that God has already decided what he will do and has already begun to act upon it—and that God’s decision and action are always right and best, regardless of what they are. The disciples waited to see what Jesus would do with five bun-sized loaves of bread and two dried fish. Jesus watched to see if his disciples would truly comprehend who he was.
While all four Gospel writers give us the number of men in the crowd that day, Matthew is the only one who tells us that women and children were also present. Such information immediately doubles the number of people there, at least, and allows for the total attendance to grow well past 10,000. That number exceeded the population of the entire area. Even had the crowd dispersed to find food in nearby villages, there was little chance of finding that much provision in local stores. Many people would have gone hungry until they returned to their homes.
Some people today spend so much effort worrying about their overwhelming needs that they miss the power and provision of Yahweh-Yireh. Jesus is the spiritual bread that satisfies our deepest hunger and embodies God’s presence with us. He can multiply blessings in believers’ lives as readily as he increased food for the crowd. He can replenish with spiritual wealth the poverty of our broken spirits.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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