George Mueller was born in Germany on September 27, 1805. He became a Christian in his early teens and in his 20’s he entered the full-time gospel ministry. In 1829 around the age of 24 or 25, he moved to Teignmouth, England to pastor a small church of about 18 congregants. While there he met his future wife Mary Groves, and they were married three months later. One of Muller’s mentors was Henry Craik and he told George about a group of people who sold all their possessions and gave to the poor. This intrigued Muller and decided to give up his small salary when he found out he was being paid through renting the church pews from parishioners. From this moment on he resolved to live by faith.
In 1832 he moved to Bristol, England and became a pastor of another church. It was here that his work with orphans began when two young children were thrown upon the church's care. It was during this time that Mueller had little to no money to his name when he began orphanage work. He determined to never ask for or solicit for money and instead pray for God’s provisions. In Muller’s lifetime God provided more than $7.5 million to supply his needs. He had new buildings built and purchased, he hired staff, and the hundreds of children never ever missed a meal. Often 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 that God would supply all 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."
Muller was truly a man of faith; I could only wish and pray for this kind of faith.
Why so many of us lack this kind of faith? 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?
There is a saying that some have based off Isaiah 58:11, “Where God guides, God provides”. Do you believe this? Do you serve a God who is able to meet every single need you have and then some? To answer the question above, yes, we do serve the same God, have the same faith available to us that Mueller had. We serve the same God and He shows no favoritism regarding faith. He is able and willing to provide for our needs every time; it just may not be in our time and in the manner, we would choose or ask.
Trusting God, for some, can be one of the most difficult things to do. Many simply cannot see past their current situations and sometimes fall for the lie that God has forgotten about them. Today, I would like to address this concern as we will look at an event that most of us are familiar with. It is a passage and account that should encourage and give comfort to those of who may question or doubt that God will provide for all our needs.
Our text is John 6:1 – 15 and it is the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. This is a significant passage since this is the ONLY miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels accounts.
John 6:1 – 15
Verse 1 - 4: The time of this event is not specified but most likely happened sometime after the healing of the handicap man and before or near the time of the Passover or Pascha.
Jesus crosses over the Sea of Galilee/Tiberius – According to D.A. Carson, “About 20 AD Herod Antipas founded a city on the west shore (of the sea) 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 heard about the miracles of Jesus (i.e., the man at the pool, the healing of the official’s son, and most likely other unrecorded ones) and they were following him. They may have followed him because they either wanted to witness a healing or miracle or receive a healing or miracle for themselves. For whatever reason they began following because there was something magnetic about Jesus.
Most likely many were following him because Passover was at hand and Passover or Pascha was one of the primary holy days for the Jewish people and it was the celebration of God delivering the Jews from slavery in Egypt and commemorating the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt.
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 make or buy food, Jesus tests Philip by asking him where they could buy food for these people.
Verse 7: Philip replies, “Even if we worked for months (200 denarii), we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
Philip’s outlook was bleak (as would have been mine). He saw 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. The situation seemed hopeless, so probably would have suggested sending the people home. 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 enough food for the people and if they had that much money it would only be enough for a meager amount of bread for each person.
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 says, “I asked around and this is all I could scrape up, but what good is this going to be for such a large crowd?” He had five loaves of bread and two fish.
The small fish were probably pickled fish (like 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 writes in his commentary of John that they were about the size of a Twinkie. The amount of food Andrew brought to Jesus was basically a meal sufficient for one or two people. He probably brought the food to Jesus to show him how dire the situation was and how ridiculous or impossible 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. The Gospels of Mark and Luke say, they sat down in groups of 50 and 100. We are told in John 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 also present.
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 statement is, “And they all ate as much as they wanted.” Jesus didn’t just give a scrap of bread and a piece of fish; he provided an abundance for the people. 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.
Verses 14 - 15:
When the people saw the miracle Jesus had performed, they immediately perceived he was The Prophet that Moses spoke about in Deuteronomy 18:15. 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). The Israelites believed the Messiah would lead a rebellion against the Romans and this was not why Jesus came, it 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 he had a completely different plan and purpose for humanity other than overthrowing the Roman bondage on Israel.
In 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 knows the need and meets the need. However, he does not just give them scraps to just get by, but he provides for them abundantly and until they are satisfied. God provides for his people exactly what we need. What this looks like varies. We see throughout the Gospels Jesus talking about trusting God and believing God can and will provide for our every need. I think He talks about it often because He knows how difficult this can be at times. Yet, Jesus assures us over and over that he is trustworthy AND He can provide all we need and sometimes more than we expect.
I struggle with faith at times. I tend to look at situations before me, and I see no logical or plausible solutions to these trying circumstances 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. God is trustworthy and Jesus can and will meet our needs, no matter how big or small, that we have in this life. The question I ask individually and corporately, do you… Do WE believe He is able and capable of not only meeting our needs, but providing for us an abundance so that He may be glorified overall. I can’t help but think as a church as we pray for growth that we focus on his glory and not our preference because I fully believe God can and will meet our needs.
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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