Jesus Feeds 5,000: Bringing Life To Desolate Places

I recently read the story where Jesus feeds 5,000 and it freshly blew me away.

Honestly, I’ve heard and read that particular story 100 times. I’ve known it since I was a child.

But as I freshly read about Jesus feeding the 5,000, I was given new eyes to see things I don’t think I had ever seen before.

Here’s what jumped out at me.

Jesus Feeds 5,000 In The Most Desolate Of Places

The passage starts by saying, “Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself” (Matthew 14:13).

Jesus wasn’t hanging out in a food court when he fed the massive crowd of people. He was in a lonely, desolate, deserted place. It was the opposite of abundant. It was sparse, thin, hardscrabble. Not a place where life flourished.

And yet it was in the desolate place that Jesus fed the great crowd (note: he actually fed more like 15,000 – 20,000; 5,000 was just the number of men). Jesus caused life and abundance and provision to bloom in the most desolate of places.

This greatly encourages me. Jesus can cause life to bloom in even the darkest, most desolate circumstances. He truly can make dead, dry, brittle bones pulse with life.

As it says in Isaiah 61:3:

…to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Jesus can turn desolation into life, ashes into beauty, mourning into gladness, and brokenheartedness into healing.

Do you find yourself in the midst of brokenness? Are you walking through dark times? Do you feel like you’re wandering through a desolate desert?

Run again to Jesus. Jesus feeds 5,000 in the wilderness. Jesus can feed, sustain, heal, uplift, and strengthen you. Find your strength in him. Find your life in him.

Jesus Isn’t Limited By Circumstances

The circumstances in which Jesus feeds 5,000 are, to put it mildly, utterly ridiculous.

He is surrounded by a massive throng of 5,000 men, plus an additional 10,000-15,000 women and children. It’s an overwhelming, overflowing, ravenously hungry crowd.

Additionally, the only food the disciples could scrounge up was a few loaves and a couple measly fish. Barely enough to feed a single person, let alone feed a crowd.

Matthew 14:15 says, “Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

Naturally, the disciples assume that the crowd must be sent away if they’re going to get something to eat. After all, how could they possibly feed the massive crowd? It would take an army of food trucks to feed so many people.

But here’s the thing…

Jesus doesn’t operate according to normal circumstances. He isn’t bound by our limitations. He is the Sovereign One who transcends circumstances. He laughs in the face of circumstances that make us cringe.

And so he takes the loaves and fishes, blesses them, and then begins dividing them. And dividing them. And dividing them some more. By the time he’s done, he’s essentially fed a stadium from a loaf of bread and a can of tuna.

This is so encouraging to me.

Jesus is not limited by my circumstances. If Jesus could feed 5,000 from a few loaves and fishes, he can certainly handle any difficult circumstance that I face. He is not intimidated by the things that intimidate me. He is not frightened by the things that frighten me.

When my circumstances seem overwhelming, I must run to the throne of grace to find mercy in my time of need. I must run to the one who owns all things, rules all things, conquers all things. He is my supply when I’m weak and weary.

Jesus feeds 5,000 virtually out of thin air. He can certainly meet all my needs. Therefore, I can trust him.

Jesus Feeds 5,000 With Abundance

Jesus didn’t just barely give each person enough to eat. He gave everyone more than they could handle. He fed them with abundance. Everyone ate and was totally satisfied.

As it says in Matthew 14:20, “And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.”

I absolutely love this. When Jesus feeds 5,000, he does so with abundance. Everyone was satisfied and there 12 baskets full of food leftover.

He is an abundant God and he loves to give abundantly to his children. He doesn’t give meagerly. He doesn’t bless with a clenched fist. Rather, he cares for his children out of his overflowing, staggering abundance.

Psalm 31:19 says:

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!

Do you believe that God wants to pour out abundant goodness upon you? Do you believe that he wants to bless you more than you can think, ask, or imagine?

We can be tempted to think that God doesn’t like to bless his children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as I love to give good gifts to my kids, so God loves to give abundantly to his children.

Do you find yourself in need, whether physically, spiritually, or emotionally? Run to God and ask him to meet your need abundantly.

The Same Jesus Is Alive Today

The Jesus who feeds 5,000 is risen and is still alive today. He still brings life to desolate places. He still transcends all circumstances. He still pours out abundant gifts upon his children.

Why would we not run to him? Why would we not trust him completely? Why would we not believe that he will provide for all our needs. Everything Jesus does, he does excellently.

Including the way he cares for his followers.

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Hey, I'm Stephen Altrogge. I'm a dad and published author. I've written for The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, ERLC, Church Leaders, Crosswalk, and many more outlets. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook .

5 thoughts on “Jesus Feeds 5,000: Bringing Life To Desolate Places”

  1. Not only does he meet our needs when we are tired or in need or depressed – he meets our needs when we MAY become tired or in need or depressed. He is there ahead of us and we simply need to turn to him to fill that need. What a loving God we serve!!

  2. To my Dear Beloved Brother in Christ, I Thank you for that encouraging testimony. Jesus has definitely brought life into my desolate place! He can do exceedingly, abundantly and above ALL that we can ask or think according to the power that worketh in us….The power that can only be extended through Jesus The Christ our Lord and Savior! hallelujah!!!!! Thank You Jesus!!!!!

  3. This was very timely Bro. Stephen. I just finished making a plea to Our father for help in my current situation that only He can help. And your writing just boosted my faith. God bless.

  4. Thank you so much, just came in a timely manner, I needed re assurance everyday through His words and this story re affirms my faith again that God indeed is good and faithful to His children .
    God bless you and your family.

  5. Amen… great encouraging word to strengthen us.. thank you.
    As I was reading this, a thought came to about sharing communion at church and how Jesus’ body and blood can feed and fill the whole world with his love and Spirit…. no matter where we are…
    Just a thought… keep up the good work
    Thank you again


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