Freshman First 40 — Day 5


Mt 14:13-18

When I think about Jesus’ many admonitions to serve our fellow humans
and to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” I especially like the account of the
feeding of the 5,000 as found in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels. Usually when
we think about this story we focus on the miracle of Jesus taking the five
loaves and two fish and feeding 5,000 men, plus the women and children,
and having twelve baskets full of food left over. While this is of course
an incredible miracle, and one of the main points of the story, I think it
sometimes overshadows an important point that we often overlook.

The disciples, like so many of us, apparently had compassion for the people
around them. Matthew tells us that the disciples came to Jesus and said,
“The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes
away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves”
(Matthew 14:15 – NASB). They knew the people were hungry. They even had
their own plan for helping, but like so many of us, it didn’t require a whole lot
of effort on their part.

To be fair to the disciples, given the nature of their situation- lots of hungry
people, not much food around, and daylight fading away- their suggestion
wasn’t unreasonable. Jesus’ response, however, reminds us of the danger of
letting reason be an excuse to not step out in faith. Jesus tells them, “They
do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” (Matthew 14:16
– NASB). The disciples’ response again mirrors our frequent response, “We
have here only five loaves and two fish”  (Matthew 14:17 – NASB). How often
do we look at a problem from a deficit perspective, what we don’t have as
opposed to what we do?

Jesus’ words to his disciples are just as appropriate for us to hear today. His
command to bring the loaves and fish to him reminds us that God wants us to
be involved in God’s work, even if our contribution is seemingly insignificant.
While Jesus certainly could have fed the people without the disciples’ help,
he wanted them, just as God wants us today, to experience the joy that comes
from stepping out in faith and placing our trust in God. Remember that the
next time you are called to “give them something to eat!”

Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Service-Learning


Freshman First 40 Days:
A devotional to help you find
God in your new community.



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