1) Jesus Fed the Five Thousand
(Jn 6:8-13) One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, There is a lad here, which has five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.
(Jn 11:43-44) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go.
Among the miracles the Lord Jesus performed, we have only selected these two, because these two are sufficient to make clear the point I want to talk about here. These are two very amazing miracles, and they are two very representative miracles that the Lord Jesus performedin the Age of Grace.
Let’s now look at the first passage: Jesus Fed the Five Thousand.
What is the concept of “five loaves and two fishes”? How many people can five loaves and two fishes feed usually? Measured according to what a normal person can eat, they may only be enough to feed two. This is the most basic concept “five loaves and two fishes” gives to man. But in the record of this passage, how many people were the five loaves and two fishes given to feed? It is recorded in the scripture: “Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.” Compared with five loaves and two fishes, is the number five thousand large? What does it show that the number is large? In man’s eyes, it is impossible to feed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, because these two are too far apart. Even if each person just had a small bite, the five loaves and two fishes were not enough to feed the five thousand. But here the Lord Jesus performed a miracle, and He not only let them eat their fill, but there were leftovers, as the verses say: “When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.” This miracle made people see the Lord Jesus’ identity and position, also see that with God anything is possible, and see the fact that God is almighty. Here it was with five loaves and two fishes that God fed the five thousand; if there was no food, could God feed the five thousand? Of course He could! As it was a miracle, it must be unimaginable and mysterious to man in some ways. But for God, it was nothing to do such a thing. Since it was a common thing to God, why do I interpret it here? Because behind this miracle, there was the Lord Jesus’ will that mankind has never discovered.
Let’s first see what kind of people the five thousand were. Were they followers of the Lord Jesus? From the verses, we know that they were not followers of the Lord Jesus. Did they know who the Lord Jesus was? Certainly not! At least, they did not know this person who stood before them was Christ. Some of them might only know what His name was and know or hear what things He had done. They were only curious about the Lord Jesus they heard of, and were far from following Him, not to speak of knowing about the Lord Jesus Himself. When the Lord Jesus saw the five thousand, they had an empty stomach and only wanted to eat their fill. Against such a background, the Lord Jesus satisfied their desire. When He satisfied their desire, what did He think in His heart? What was His attitude toward these people who only wanted to eat their fill? The Lord Jesus’ mind and attitude here had to do with God’s disposition and God’s substance. Facing the five thousand who were hungry and only desired to have a good meal, and facing the five thousand who were full of curiosity and expectation for the Lord Jesus, He only wanted to bestow grace on them through this miracle, and yet He did not have any extravagant hope that they could follow Him. This was because He knew that their purpose was just to be along for the ride and to eat the loaves and be filled. Therefore, He used the things available there, the five loaves and two fishes, to feed the five thousand so that these people who liked to watch the fun and liked to see miracles had an eye-opener and saw with their own eyes what the incarnate God could do. Although the Lord Jesus satisfied their curiosity with the fact, in His heart He had long known that the five thousand only had the purpose to eat the loaves and be filled. So He did not say anything or preach anything to them at all, but He only let them see the happening of the miracle. He would not possibly treat these people as He treated the disciples who truly followed Him. However, in God’s heart, all created beings are under His sovereignty, and if it is necessary, He will let any created being under His eyes enjoy the grace from Him. Even though these people did not know who He was or understand Him, or have any impression about Him or any gratitude to Him even after they ate the loaves and fishes, God did not mind those things, but gave them a very good opportunity to enjoy God’s grace. Some people say that God has principles in doing things and He does not care for or keep those who do not believe in Him, much less let them enjoy His grace. Is this the fact? In God’s eyes, whatever living created beings created by Him, He will manage and take care of them, and will treat them in different ways and arrange and rule over them in different ways. This is God’s mind and attitude toward all things.
Although the five thousand who ate the loaves and fishes did not intend to follow the Lord Jesus, He was not serious with these people. After they were fed, do you know what the Lord Jesus did? Did the Lord Jesus preach anything to them? Where did the Lord Jesus go after that? The verses do not record what the Lord Jesus said to them. After He performed the miracle, He left quietly. Then did He have any requirement for them? Did He have hatred toward them? No. He just did not want to give more attention to these people who could not possibly follow Him at all. At that time, His heart was aching. Because He saw the fall of mankind and felt mankind’s rejection of Him, and also because when He saw these people or when He was with them, mankind’s obtuseness and ignorance made Him very sad and distressed in His heart, therefore He only wanted to depart from them as soon as possible. Although in the heart of the Lord, He did not have any requirement for them, He did not want to pay attention to them, much less want to spend His energy on them, and He knew that they could not possibly follow Him, nevertheless the Lord Jesus’ attitude toward them was very clear. He only wanted to treat them with kindness and bestow grace on them. This was the attitude God had toward every created being under His sovereignty: Be kind to every created being and supply and nourish every created being. Just because the Lord Jesus was God’s incarnate flesh, He naturally manifested the substance of God Himself. He treated them with kindness; He treated them with a merciful and generous heart, being kind to them. No matter how these people looked at the Lord Jesus, and no matter what the result would be, He just treated every created being in the identity of the Creator. Whatever manifested in Him was God’s disposition and what God has and is. The Lord Jesus quietly did a thing, and then quietly left. What aspect of God’s disposition is this? Can it be said to be God’s lovingkindness? Can it be said that God is selfless? Can an ordinary man do this? Certainly not! As far as their substance was concerned, what kind of people were the five thousand the Lord Jesus fed with the five loaves and two fishes? Could they be said to be ones compatible with the Lord? Could they all be said to be ones against God? Certainly, they were absolutely not ones compatible with the Lord, and they were absolutely against God in substance. However, how did God treat them? He used a way to dissolve their enmity to Him. The way is “being kind.” In other words, although the Lord Jesus regarded them as sinners, they were still created beings in God’s eyes, so He still treated these sinners with kindness. This is God’s tolerance, and this tolerance is determined by the identity and substance of God Himself. So no created man can do it, but only God can.
When you can truly sense God’s mind and attitude toward mankind and truly understand God’s “affection” and care for every created being, you will be able to understand the painstaking care the Creator has exerted on every human being He created and the love the Creator has given to them. At that time you will be able to describe God’s love with two words. What are they? Some say, selfless, and others say, universal. Of these two words, “universal” is the most improper word to describe God’s love. This word is used by man to describe a person’s broad heart and feelings. I loathe this word very much, because it has the meaning of giving blindly without principles and without distinguishing the objects, and it is the manifestation of a foolish person or a muddle-headed one misusing his emotion. If you use such a word to describe God’s love, it unavoidably has the inclination of blaspheming God. I have two more appropriate words to describe God’s love. What are they? The first word is gigantic. Doesn’t this word have a great artistic concept? The second is vast. It has practical meaning that I use these two words to describe God’s love. Literally, the word “gigantic” is used to describe the volume or capacity of a material object. Yet no matter how big the material object is, it can be touched and seen by man, because it exists, it is not an abstract thing, and it can give man a quite accurate and actual concept. No matter whether it is viewed from two dimensions or from three dimensions, it does not require people to imagine its existence, because it is something that truly exists. Although describing God’s love with “gigantic” makes people feel that this word quantifies God’s love, it also makes people feel that God’s love can hardly be quantified. To say that God’s love can be quantified is because God’s love is not unreal or from legend, but shared by all things under God’s sovereignty and also enjoyed by every created being in different levels and from different angles. Although it cannot be seen or touched by man, it makes all things be nourished and live. The living of all things is manifesting the bits of God’s love and is also counting and testifying God’s love they enjoy every moment. To say that God’s love can hardly be quantified is because the mystery of God’s supplying and nourishing all things is unfathomable to mankind, and because God’s mind in treating all things, especially in treating mankind, is unfathomable to man. In other words, no one knows how much painstaking care the Creator exerts on mankind, and no one can understand or know how deeply the Creator loves the mankind He created with His own hands and how deep this affection is. I use “gigantic” to describe God’s love for the purpose that man can feel and understand the broadness and real existence of God’s love, and for the purpose that man can more deeply comprehend the actual meaning of the word “Creator” and more deeply understand the real meaning of the address of “created being.” What is “vast” usually used to describe? It is usually used to describe the sea and the universe, for example, the vast universe and the vast sea. To man, the extensiveness and deep serenity of the universe are beyond his reach. Man is full of imagination and adoration for it. Its mystery and profoundness are unreachable for man. At the thought of the sea, you will think of its broadness. You cannot see its end, and you can feel its mysteriousness and inclusiveness. So I use “vast” to describe God’s love, for the purpose that man can feel the preciousness of God’s love and the beauty of its profoundness, feel that the power of God’s love is infinite and broad, and also feel the holiness of God’s love and God’s dignity and unoffendableness manifested in God’s love. Then now do you feel it is appropriate that I use the word “vast” to describe God’s love? Is God’s love worthy of these two words “gigantic” and “vast”? Very worthy! In human language, only these two words are quite appropriate, closer to the description of God’s love. Do you feel them appropriate? If you are asked to describe God’s love, will you use these two words? I think you won’t. This is because your understanding and experience of God’s love are just limited in two-dimensional scope and have not been upgraded to the height of three-dimensional space. Therefore, when you are asked to describe God’s love, you all feel lacking in words and even have nothing to say in reply. Maybe you feel it hard to understand the two words I say today, or you do not agree at all. This only shows that you experience and understand God’s love too superficially and in a too narrow scope. I have said before that God is selfless, and you just remember selfless. Could God’s love only be described by “selfless”? Isn’t this scope too narrow? You should ponder over this thing more before you can gain something.
The above is God’s disposition and God’s substance we see from the first miracle. Although it is a story that has been read for several thousand years, in which some simple scenes are given and people see some simple phenomena, nevertheless in these simple scenes we see the more valuable things, which are God’s disposition and what God has and is. What God has and is here represents God Himself and expresses God’s own mind. When God expressed His mind, He was also expressing His heart’s voice. He hoped that some people could understand Him, hoped that some people could know Him and understand His will, and also hoped that some people could listen to His heart’s voice and could take the initiative to cooperate and satisfy His heart’s desire. And the things the Lord Jesus did were exactly the silent expression of God.
from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself (3)”
in A Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh