Nehemiah's Call

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Eyes to See and Ears to Hear

Eyes to See and Ears to Hear

May 22 , 2007

The Residue of a Miracle

In the gospel of Matthew 14:14-21 we find the feeding of the 5000, a miracle of multiplication that spurs spiritual faith in the disciples. The account reads, “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”  But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”  And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”  He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.       

From this short miracle we learn some major insights into the Person of Jesus Christ.  In the beginning the multitudes were drawn to Jesus and He responded from compassion. It is clear that Jesus provides for the things He works through. The disciples were ready to turn the multitude away to fend for themselves. Jesus graciously provided a way out for them to save face. He chose to do a miracle through them to accomplish the physical needs of the multitude and bolster the spiritual needs of His disciples through faith. Usually Jesus accomplishes several objectives by the completion of a single act. Here the provision becomes a sweeping presentation of the Son of God, a lasting impression indeed.

Jesus blesses the bread and fish, yet still depends on faith for distribution. Jesus hands the food to the disciples and it was up to the disciples to distribute the remainder out to the people. This part still required the exercise of faith because it was not until the multiplication began that the disciples saw a miracle unfolding among them. The disciples looked to Jesus to do all the work and Jesus looked to them to do all the work. The supernatural part was easy for the Spirit of God, Jesus was working on the faith part. This illustrates how Jesus works among us today, many times requiring us to move out in faith when all the time He has already blessed and broken the loaves of our offering.

Maybe the most significant insight we learn comes from a deeper understanding of the phrase found in verse 20, “they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.”  To the writer this event was a miracle and to have twelve baskets with leftovers astounded the disciples. Jesus fed well over 5000 people this day and the leftovers are significant.  These are no ordinary leftovers they are “the residue of a miracle.” The word translated “fragments” is the Greek word perisseuo. This Greek word means, “to remain” or “an abundance.”  The English word residue accurately describes the same process as “leftover” or “something that remains.” When I think of residue I think of dirty rings around a toilet or black outlines of a shoe print on a clean floor. No matter what the setting the word “residue” clearly displays the evidence of prior action with an effect continuing in the present.      

A similar account and witness to the miraculous nature of multiplication can be found in Acts 16:5, “So the churches were “strengthened” in the faith, and “increased” in number daily.” This verb “strengthened” is the Greek word stereo.  This verb is an imperfect passive, meaning continuous action by something. The ekklesia is the subject.  This was done through the apostles teaching. The word “increased” is translated from the Greek word perisseuo.  This verb is an imperfect active, meaning a continuous action moving forth.  This is the same word used in the feeding of the five thousand by Jesus.

Here in the feeding of the 5000 Jesus illustrates several kingdom principles. The disciples first focused on the natural. Fish and bread are used. The principle of fishing for men is reinforced, a supernatural miracle or spiritual greater than the physical. The expansion of the kingdom in the word “fragments” finds the same word used in Acts where apostles taught and the church “expanded” daily. The ekklesia is no longer a national body but a supernatural, multiplying and responding body of life broken for those called out of darkness and into His light.

Jesus speaks prophetically (the residue of a miracle):

  • The twelve baskets were filled with fragments
  • The twelve apostles were responsible for spreading the word after Jesus
  • Those “that remain” and “were left over” were a result of the power of God and the presence of Jesus
  • The Greek word (perisseuo) used to describe the natural multiplying from faith of the ekklesia as taught by the apostles
  • The word of God is living and has a miraculous multiplying effect in the world

This excerpt is from chapter 8 of the book The Matthew Principles written by Director Lawrence R. Yoder. Copies of the book can be requested via mail to Nehemiah’s Call, P.O. Box 95 Broadway, VA 22815.

Written by

Lawrence R. Yoder - Director
Harrisonburg, VA

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