“And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.” – Matthew 14:20
There are so many wonderful lessons to be found in this story from the life and ministry of our Lord, and I’m sure you’ve heard them expounded at one time or another. For instance, when we read John’s account of this story in John 6: 5-13, we see the skepticism of Philip, who was sure there would never be a way to feed 5,000 people with what little money they had on hand. Then there was Peter, who was resourceful enough to find a little lad who had five loaves of bread and two “small fish,” though this wouldn’t be much help either. And, oh, the wonderful sermons I’ve heard about the unassuming little boy, who was willing to share his lunch! I could go on, but not long ago, I read a sermon by one of my favorites, George H. Morrison, who pointed out something else in the story that I had not thought of. I immediately determined to share this blessed truth with you.
As you recall, when everyone had been fed, not just enough to ease their hunger, but enough that they “were filled,” Jesus instructed the disciples to gather up “the fragments that remained.” This turned out to be twelve baskets full of leftovers. Now, the question is, did our Lord not know how much would be required to feed this group? Of course, He did. But while you and I, shortsightedly, see frugality in our Lord’s instructions, Morrison sees uncalculating love. As he puts it, “He took no nice and precise measurements of what the hungry multitude required. He did not think of the minimum of need; He thought of the maximum of love.”
This was true of His whole ministry here on earth. People asked for healing and received the forgiveness of sin along with it. When He gave the parable of the Prodigal Son, He pictured for us a father who not only welcomed his wayward son back home, but who was lavished upon him a new robe, shoes, and a ring, music, dancing, and a steak dinner! All the son requested was forgiveness, but he was given everything. And who could forget the high words of praise Jesus gave to the woman who “wasted” all her precious ointment in an alabaster box on the Savior she loved so dearly? (Mk. 14:3-9) Her act, He said, was not only a “good work on me,” it was a memorial to her and her extravagant love.
Finally, 1 John 2:2 tells us plainly that Christ’s death on the Cross was the payment not only for our sins, as believers, but “also for the sins of the whole world.” I don’t question that. And from what I read of the love of God, especially as manifested in the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, I’m not especially surprised. Although they will not all accept it, there was enough saving Grace in the death of Jesus Christ to save every guilty sinner who lived or will ever live. It’s only efficient for those who receive it by faith, but it’s sufficient for the whole world. No lost man can ever say, “There was nothing provided for me.”
You and I can never match such extravagant love; but we can try. We can live our lives as the woman who poured out her greatest treasure upon Jesus, and the widow who gave all that she had to God. May we, like our Lord, forget about the minimum of need, and focus on the maximum of love.
“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” – David Livingstone (1813-1873)