Most Christians are familiar with the fact that Jesus performed a miracle using loaves and fishes to feed a large crowd of people that were following Him to hear His powerful teaching and witness His healing power. The Bible actually records that Jesus performed two such miracles.
In the first miracle, Jesus fed more than 5,000 with a young boy’s lunch that consisted only of five loaves and two fish. In the second miracle Jesus used seven loaves and a “few fish” to feed a crowd of more than 4,000. The first miracle was performed in a Jewish territory on the northwestern side of the Jordan River that flowed into the Sea of Galilee. The second miracle took place a short time later on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, also a Jewish territory, but an area heavily populated by Gentiles. 1 All four Gospels record the first miracle (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17), John 6:5-15). Matthew and Mark record the latter (Matthew 15:32-16:10, Mark 8:1-9).
In both miracles Jesus gave thanks as he broke the bread and fish in his own hands multiplying them as only God could do as He gave them to His disciples to serve to the masses. Miraculously, ALL of the people were sufficiently fed and there were leftovers. What astonishing miracles!!
Mark 8:6 (NASB) – And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He (Jesus) gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people.
Why did Jesus offer thanks before He performed the miracles? And better yet, with ALL of God’s power and might at His full disposal, why did He even pray and give thanks at all? Why not just perform the miracles and dismiss the crowds? After all, He was God in the flesh!!
After studying these passages carefully from the Scripture and from a number of respected commentaries, I know that there are deep theological explanations to these questions. But I believe I have a simple and yet profound truth with which most of us can easily identify … Jesus continued His verbal teaching by setting an example to the masses, both Jew and Gentile, through His prayers. Jesus was modeling what each of us as Christ followers are expected to do … Give ALL of our thanks in every situation with prayer and supplication to God … never to ourselves. God created us to give glory to Him and to Him alone (Isaiah 43:6-7).
Jesus’ prayer life is a model for our prayer life with our Heavenly Father. Jesus gave thanks to God in everything. Let us do what Jesus taught us to do and as Paul urged the church at Philippi to do when he wrote let “everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving … be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).” We would do well to remember that “Every good gift and every perfect gift …” comes from God (James 1:17) and that with God “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, Luke 1:37)! “There is none Holy like the Lord: for there is none besides You; there is no rock like our God.“ (1 Samuel 2:2)
Holy Father, just as Jesus did when He was here on earth, we give You thanks for every good and perfect gift that You have provided. Thank You for teaching us through the example of Jesus that we were created to give glory to You. We are weak and You are strong. With You nothing is impossible. Accept our thanksgiving praise Father as there is none Holy like You. In the name of Jesus, amen and amen.
1 See Life and Land Seminars article: The Feedings of the Multitudes – When, Where and Why? by Gordon Franz.