George Mueller was born in Prussia in 1805, and in his later teens became a Christian. In his 20’s he entered the full-time gospel ministry. During this time he went to Teignmouth, England to pastor a small church. He gave up his small salary when he found out it was paid through the rental of church pews. From that moment on he resolved to live by faith.
In 1832 he pastored another church in Bristol, England. It was there that his famous work with the orphans began when two young children were thrown upon the church's care. Mueller had little to no money to his name when he began the orphanage work; however in the next sixty years God provided more than $7.5 million to supply their needs. He had new buildings built or purchased, staff was hired, and the hundreds of children never missed a meal. Often times prayers were said at dinner over empty plates only to have food arrive at the last moment.
Mueller was a man of faith. He had confidence in knowing that God would supply all of his needs and the needs of his ministry for His glory. He writes, "But God, our infinite rich Treasurer, remains with us. It is this which gives me peace. Moreover if it pleases Him, with a work requiring about $264,000 a year...would I gladly pass through all these trials of faith with regard to means, if He only might be glorified, and His Church and the world benefited...I have placed myself in the position of having no means at all left; and 2,100 persons, not only daily at the table, but with everything else to be provided for, and all the funds gone; 189 missionaries to be assisted, and nothing whatever left; about one hundred schools with 9,000 scholars in them, to be entirely supported, and no means for them in hand; about four million tracts and tens of thousands of copies of the Holy Scriptures yearly now to be sent out, and all the money expended...I commit the whole work to Him, and He will provide me with what I need, in future also, though I know not whence the means are to come."
Wouldn’t it be awesome to have this kind of faith? Why do you think we lack the kind of faith that someone like Mueller had? Did he have more faith than us? Did God favor Him more than you and me? Did he serve a different God than we serve?
I hear people say “Where God guides, God provides”. Do I believe this? Do I believe I serve a God who is able to meet every single need I have and then some? Well, my friends you and I do have the same faith available to us that Mueller had. We serve the same God and He shows no favoritism in giving out faith. He is able and will provide for our needs every time; it just may not be in our time and in the manner we would choose.
Trusting God and his provisions is for some of us one of the most difficult things. Many of us simply cannot see past the current situation we are in and we begin to despair that God may forget about us. Today we will look at an event that most of us are probably somewhat familiar with. This is a portion of scripture that should encourage and give comfort to those of us who may struggle with trusting that God does in fact provide for ALL our needs. The text for today is John 6:1 – 15 and is the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. It is a significant passage (and certainly one that was most talked about) since this is the ONLY miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels accounts.
Read John 6:1 – 15
Verse 1 - 4: A time that is not specified but happened sometime after the healing of the handicap man and before or near the time of the Passover.
The Sea of Galilee/Tiberius – According to D.A. Carson, “About 20 AD Herod Antipas founded a city on the west shore and called it Tiberius, after the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar. Gradually the name was transferred to the lake , though the change was not common in popular parlance until much later in the century, when John wrote.” 
A large crowd of people had obviously heard about the miracles Jesus performed (i.e. the man at the pool, the Officials son and probably more unrecorded ones) and were following him. They may have followed because they wanted to either witness a healing or miracle or actually be recipients of a healing or miracle themselves. For whatever reason they began following because there was something magnetic about this Jesus. One of the reasons there could have been so many people following him was the Passover was at hand. This was the celebration of God delivering the Jews from slavery in Egypt and commemorating the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. This is second Passover spoken of in the Gospel of John.
Verses 5: As Jesus is sitting on the hillside talking to his disciples he notices a large crowd gathering. According to some of the other Gospel accounts Jesus had spent some time teaching and healing the people. This teaching and healing went on for some time because Jesus noticed the people were getting hungry.
Verse 6: Knowing full well there was no place nearby to get or buy food (plus I think Jesus already knew what he was going to do) Jesus tests Philip by asking him where they could buy food for these people.
Verse 7: Philip replies, “Two hundred denarii would not be enough money to buy bread for each of them to get a little.”
Philip’s outlook was bleak and I don't fault him one bit. He had no plausible answer to Jesus’ question and to make matters worse if there was a place nearby to buy food it would cost a small fortune. A denarius was about a day’s wages. Two hundred denarii would be about 8 months of wages. Philip said eight months worth of wages wouldn’t even be enough money to buy bread for the people and that would only be enough for a meager amount for each person. It was hopeless, so why not send the people home? Jesus’ plan however, was not to just give the people a scrap of bread, his intent was to feed them to their hearts content.
Verse 8 - 9: Peter’s brother Andrew shows up with a very small amount of food. He essentially says, “I asked around and this is all I could muster up, but what good is this going to be for such a large crowd?” He had five loaves and two fish.
The small fish were probably pickled fish (similar to herrings or sardines). The loaves of bread were barley loaves which meant that they were small inexpensive loaves of bread for the poorer classes of people. R.C. Sproul says in his commentary of John they were about the size of a Twinkie. What Andrew brought to Jesus was basically a meal fit for one person. He probably brought it to Jesus to show him how bleak the situation was and how ridiculous it would be to try and feed all the people.
Verse 10: Jesus tells the disciples to have the people sit down on the grass. As the Gospels of Mark and Luke say, they sat down in groups of 50 and 100. We are told there were about 5,000 men present. Some have projected that the actual number of people present could have been as high as 15,000 people if women and children were present as well.
Verse 11: Jesus takes the loaves and gives thanks to God for the provision and starts distributing the food to the seated people. The key to this verse is that he gave as much as they wanted. Jesus didn’t just give a scrap of bread and a piece of fish, he provided abundantly for the people present. He not only fed them, but he fed them to satisfaction.
Verse 12 - 13: When everyone ate until their heart’s content Jesus tells the disciples to pick up the leftovers and there was enough to fill 12 baskets. The number 12 may be significant here and may be symbolic of the 12 Tribes of Israel and God’s provision for the nation of Israel. All four Gospel accounts reference the 12 baskets so it is probably there to show the love and provision God has for Israel.
I pause here for a moment and I want to address something that has been heavy on my heart in regards to higher criticism or scholarly views of Scripture. Unfortunately when a miracle is recorded in the Bible there are certain “scholars” who find it necessary to explain away the miraculous. There are some who consider themselves higher critics of God’s Word and they seem to want to find an explanation in unexplainable things. They feel it is their job to use logic and reason in interpreting scripture instead of accepting by faith that the God of the Bible is able to do the miraculous without giving reason or explaining how or why He chooses to do it. There is s a teaching by some on this miracle that the real miracle in this story was that many had the foresight to pack a lunch before they came and others simply forgot and when it came time to eat those who remembered to bring their lunches learned a life lesson from the little boy as he was willing to share his lunch they too felt convicted and shared their lunches with those who forgot; thus making it an ethical miracle; the miracle of sharing.
Others have taught that prior to this event Jesus and his disciples had stored a huge cache of bread and fish in a nearby cave. When it came time to eat Jesus had the disciples distribute the food from their excess supply from the nearby cave. Trickery is hardly a miracle.
Verses 14 - 15: When the people saw the miracle or sign Jesus had done they immediately perceived he was The Prophet (Deut 18:15) that Moses spoke about. They in turn wanted to make Jesus their king and Jesus wanted nothing to do with being forced to be a king (by human means) and then touted off to lead a rebellion against the Romans. This was not why he came and this was not his purpose. He already was the King of the Jews but was not a monarchal King; He came as a theocratic King and had a completely different plan and purpose for humanity than over throwing the Roman bondage on Israel.
After reading and studying this miracle of Jesus and hearing testimonies of how God provided for individuals at what seemed the last hour, I am convinced that God can and will provide for his children (you and me). I take comfort in knowing that in this account Jesus does not just give them scraps to get by but he feeds them until they are satisfied. God provides for his people exactly what we need. We see throughout the Gospels Jesus talking much about trusting God and believing God and I think He talks about it often because He knows how difficult theses times can be. He assures us over and over that he is trustworthy AND able to provide all we need. I myself have trouble with this at times. I look at the situation before me and I see no logical or plausible solutions and it is during these times I am reminded of how Jesus met the needs of the 5,000 (or 15,000) to their hearts content. He surely can meet the needs that I have in life as well.
 Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel According to John p. 268Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Co.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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