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Kindness in the Miracle of Feeding the Five Thousand

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

Jesus miraculously fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish.

Jesus miraculously fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish.

The story is popular because of its miracle feature—feeding five thousand with five barley loaves and two small fish. Yet, as happens with almost everything Jesus did, there are wisdom gems beneath the surface. Principles of kindness are at the heart of this story.

The Setting

The miracle is recorded in all four gospels1 and when the reports are synchronized, here’s what we know:

On hearing about the death of John the Baptist, Jesus wished for some time alone. He walked to a secluded area near the Sea of Galilee, but the people followed Him and stayed all day. By evening time, when they became hungry, there were more than five thousand in attendance.

Matthew, Mark and Luke combine all the disciples into one voice, telling Jesus to send the people away to buy food, perhaps because they were also ready to eat. John gives the most detailed account of the miracle. He mentions four characters, including Jesus, in the story and each of the four divulges a kindness principle.

(1) Jesus: Kindness is Selfless

In Matthews’s account, Jesus, neglecting his own need for quietness and rest, “had compassion on the crowd”2 (Matthew 14:13) and began to minister. The sight of people wanting hope in the midst of their religious and political struggles aroused His concern, and He prioritized their needs above His. He preached, He healed, and the crowd stayed until evening.

In John’s account, He was the first to speak in the interest of the people. He spoke to Philip who was a native of Bethsaida, a city nearby, therefore most qualified to answer His question. “He said to Philip, who belonged to that region, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ (John 6: 5). Notice that the Spiritual Teacher also paid attention to his listeners' physical needs. He initiated kindness—concern for the well-being of others, without any thought of reward. Such is the anatomy of sincere kindness.

Kindness is selfless .. is worth more than money.

Kindness is selfless .. is worth more than money.

(2) Phillip: Kindness Is Worth More Than Money

In answer to Jesus, Philip made a calculation of the cost. “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:7) But the people needed more than a bite, and they did not have six months to accumulate wages. The task of arriving at an accurate arithmetical answer for feeding five thousand was mind-boggling. Truth is, currency is not an appropriate measurement for the cost of kindness.

Even when the act of kindness calls for money, contributors focus on its value to the receiver, who often rates it as priceless. In moments of kindness, gifts of money, time, skills or whatever the form of the kind deed, givers are satisfied that they made the best use of the commodity. Helping someone win a battle over life’s difficulty can be as valuable as life itself.

(3) Andrew: Kindness Is Never Too Little

While Philip was lost in a feeling of helplessness, Andrew made a valuable find. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish.” He was practical though, and he voiced his doubt. “But how far will they go among so many?” (John 6: 9).

Jesus instructed the disciples to seat the people on the grass. Then, “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11) Andrew’s question was answered. And there were twelve baskets full of leftovers.

Here is a lesson for all mankind that a little word of encouragement, a little touch of comfort, a little bowl of soup, a short ride to the grocery store may seem minimal to the donor. Yet, when divine favor accompanies it, what seems like not-enough becomes obviously more-than-enough. Just give, and let the supernatural take the gift as far as it needs to go.

Kindness is never too little ... a by-product of self-discipline

Kindness is never too little ... a by-product of self-discipline

(4) The Boy: Kindness Is a By-Product of Self-Discipline

If the little boy carried his lunch, he was very disciplined unlike children who eat just because there’s something to eat. If he carried it to sell, which is still a habit among poor children traveling in the region, he was disciplined enough to pay attention while the Teacher was speaking. Whatever the reason, the little boy practiced self-control, without which, he would have nothing to give. He gave selflessly.

People who keep on eating even when they’re not hungry may not have any food to donate to the food bank. The excessive shopper who buys more products than she needs may not be able to extend a helping hand to the mother who is unemployed, because of COVID. On the other hand, people who are disciplined to share are likely to save up something, just in case they are called on to give. There would be more kind acts, if more people disciplined and prepared themselves to be kind.

Conclusion

The world needs kindness now more than ever. Selfless hearts are in demand. If more people discipline themselves like the little boy, and keep something ready to give, there will be lots of little kindnesses that God could miraculously turn into much.

Jesus did not snap His fingers to feed the five thousand, and He is not likely to do it when the beginning of the miracle is in human hands. When people surrender the little that they have in their possession—prayer and faith included, God will give the increase. Prayer will keep the focus on concern for each other. Faith will access the distribution of God's rewards for large and little acts of kindness.

And miracles seem to happen more often when someone is kind enough to request them for someone else.

Notes

Reference: Bible Hub Commentaries on John 6:1-15

1 Matthew 14: 13-21, Mark 6: 30-44, Luke 9: 10-17, John 6:1-15

2 All Bible quotations are from the Easy-to-Read Version.

© 2021 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 25, 2021:

Thanks, Devika. True, when we see how others react to kindness, it encourages us to be more kind.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 25, 2021:

Hi Dora it means a lot to be kind to one another and to be ourselves. This is an amazing story that makes me see how kindness makes others feel too.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 23, 2021:

Thanks, Alyssa. Sure, more kindness will make life easier and happier for everyone.

Alyssa from Ohio on July 23, 2021:

Eloquently said, MsDora! I love how you broke this down into four lessons we can apply in our own lives. The world could definitely benefit from more kindness.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 23, 2021:

Audrey, that's the truth. "Kindness blesses the one who receives and the one who gives." If we consider this, we might be inspired to be kinder. Thank you.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 22, 2021:

Thank you MsDora for this important message. The world needs more kindness. It is always possible to be kind. Kindness blesses the one who receives and the one who gives.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2021:

Well said, Lora. Thank you very much for affirming the lessons on kindness in the record of this miracle.

Lora Hollings on July 22, 2021:

The Miracle of Feeding the Five Thousand is such a great lesson in kindness. What you say in your wonderful article, Ms Dora, is so true and so reflective of what we may take from this lesson. If we all practice kindness in sharing, even just a little of what we have and not being excessive in our our spending and eating, there would always be some to share with a neighbor or those in real need. And if we are sincere in our prayers, He will increase the kindness and compassion that we show others.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2021:

John, thanks for your affirmation. Sure, kindness boomerangs.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 22, 2021:

Thank you for sharing this miracle of kindness, MsDora. I have often found that giving, especially out of kindness when you don’t really have much to spare, returns to you ten-fold. Blessings to you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2021:

Thank you, Nithya. There's much truth in your last statement.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2021:

Chrish, we'll keep on helping each other through our support and our comments. Thanks again.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 22, 2021:

A great article. Thank you for sharing this story. Being kind to one another makes this a better place to live in.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on July 22, 2021:

And you are too Ms Dora,

I thank you so much for all the help in my writing journey so grateful.

Sending power hugs again and love yous!!!!!

Have a wonderful day.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2021:

Thanks, Brenda. That's the message. We need kindness now more than ever.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2021:

Thank you, Flourish. I affirm that kindness makes more of a difference than we know.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2021:

Thank you, Barbara. I'm in love with that little boy. Thanks for informing me of his name. What a blessing to have a grandmother like yours.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on July 21, 2021:

Ms Dora

This is an excellent story.

I've always liked this one in the Bible.

You clearly give us a message to open up our hearts with kindness.

To care for our fellow man and give what we can.

God will do the rest.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 21, 2021:

Kindness is so important to express to others. It may make more of a difference than we know.

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on July 21, 2021:

Hi MsDora,

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. The little boy's name was Ben Ezra.

Have a wonderful week. My Grandmother Knight taught me so much about the Bible.

Bobbi Purvis

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on July 21, 2021:

MsDora,

Thanks for refreshing my memory of this precious story. The little boy's name was Ben Ezra. My precious Grandmother Knight taught me a lot about the Bible

Thanks, I will be reading more of your hubs,

Bobbi Purvis

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 21, 2021:

Thanks, Peggy. Thanks to HubPages also for giving us a platform from which to share.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2021:

Sharing and kindness are valuable lessons. Thanks for spreading the word in this manner.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 21, 2021:

Thanks, Chrish. Love and hugs to you too. You're so kind.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on July 21, 2021:

The virtue of showing love is Kindness, the greatest virtue of all.

Thank you for waking us up Ms Dora.

Sending super power hugs and a bunch of love! Have a beautiful day ahead.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 21, 2021:

Thank you, Bryan. "It is true that having self-control and discipline in managing our own indulgence can help us to be more alert on the needs of others." This statement needed to be repeated just the way you said it.

Brian from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on July 21, 2021:

Dear Ms. Dora, this is a truly wonderful hub that captured the essence of kindness. Sometimes, it's really not about how much we have, but the act of offering someone a piece of hope in their times of need.

I have never thought that self-discipline is a key component of being able to spread kindness but you have certainly opened my eyes to this. It is true that having self-control and discipline in managing our own indulgence can help us to be more alert on the needs of others, just like the case of the little boy who offered his lunch to feed the masses.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 21, 2021:

Thanks, Rosina. Now, in this pandemic we need kindness more than ever.

Rosina S Khan on July 20, 2021:

Dora, kindness, big or little, is an act that we all can offer in this pandemic season. Your hub leads us by example. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 20, 2021:

Manatita, I know you also like the theme of kindness. Thanks for your encouraging comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 20, 2021:

Thank you, Bill. There's something else to deduce when we re-read the story. I like that.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 20, 2021:

Thanks, Pam. Certainly, it's a choice to be kind or not. It's so necessary now, though. Wish we would all become kindness practitioners.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 20, 2021:

Thanks, Misbah. I appreciate the Kusner quote, also the blessings and love. Sending the same for you.

manatita44 from london on July 20, 2021:

Beautiful! No easy practice is kindness! Yet a very real and necessary one. Thank you, Dee. Great example and well expressed.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 20, 2021:

Kindness, compassion, empathy, love, all messages from this story. We would all do well to read it on a regular basis, me thinks.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 20, 2021:

I completely agree that the world needs more kinds, Ms Dora. I just read about this miracle in Matthew this morning. It is such a wonderful miracle. Kindness is something all of us and do, as I think we just make a choice to be kind to everyone we meet.

Thank you for sharing this wonderul article.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on July 20, 2021:

Beautiful hub, Ms. Dora. Kindness is the key to happiness in this life and in the next. It's never too little, I agree.

"Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” – Harold S. Kushner

Sending Blessings and Love to you

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