Nissanka Goonetilleke - Feeding Five Thousand

Mark 6, this is the time when Jesus spoke to a large multitude of people and verse 31 He said, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while; for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And the people saw them departing; and many knew Him.... and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and out went them, and come together unto Him. And Jesus, when he came out; saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things!"

When we think of convention, it is a very useful thing, and we are very glad for the food that God puts on the table for us, and for the fellowship, but that is not the ultimate thing. We want to realize that fellowship doesn't give faith; fellowship feeds faith. It feeds faith, but it won't give faith. It was good to hear Linnet's experience, and when we hear a person's experience it is very touching. John said the things that we have touched and handled, that is our experiences.

When we get ready for a meeting, we pray to God to try to speak about something that is our experience. The cry of David's heart was to be empty and lowly of heart. This picture here of this multitude of people, over five thousand people, here they gathered, but what is the interesting point? A lot of those people, though they were in that meeting, there was one thing that made them sinners; they missed the mark because they had a wrong motive in their hearts. I don't know whether they were just being dishonest or whether they were ignorant, but the purpose of their hearts wasn't right. When we gather like this, we want to use this time to make sure that our purpose and motive is right before God. It is true that we are sitting next to someone and we see people we haven't met for a long time, but the main thing is that we want this experience to be one where we can get close to God.

At the end of John 6, you read of the feeding of the five thousand. It is a sad picture because all of those people left and said, "It is an hard saying; who can hear it?" and actually not much was achieved in their hearts. Jesus gave those people some natural food, and naturally they were taken up with that miracle, and we must not think that we are exempt from that, because we have the same human nature that those people had at that time, and things like that can give us a wrong motive and purpose in our hearts. It says that Jesus had to hide Himself from them because of their wrong motive. They were trying to make Him a king, and they had lost sight of the spiritual thing. We can lose sight of the spiritual fellowship and make our fellowship a natural fellowship, and that is what happened.

Jesus said, "You are not coming because of the spiritual food," and we have the same possibility of having the same kind of heart that they had. It is not a bad thing for us to purpose right from the start of this convention, between the meetings, to try to get quiet by ourselves and try to pray to God that He will help us. Even tonight when we go to where we sleep, it would be a good thing to just pray to God to help us to have the right purpose and motive, so that He can feed us. In the mornings and between meetings if we can just pray quietly, because the most important thing is to realize that we are before God.

"Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile." Jesus wants us to rest. It is a good thing that we can come apart. A big help about that is that we are not troubled about the worries at home and at work and at school, because those things steal away that seed that God wants to plant in our hearts. Jesus said, "Come ye apart and rest awhile." When we are here becomes a natural rest, and those who have accepted the truth, we aren't restless, not worried about when we die. And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd." He was moved with compassion.


If we have a proud self-confident haughty nature, that won't move people to compassion; the thing that moves people to compassion is for people to be humble. Coming back to Nugegoda, I saw beggars.  A beggar stretches out his hand for help, and he is not proud. He is trying to draw compassion out of us. We can move the heart of God to compassion. If those people in Jesus' day were proud and not wanting help from God, He couldn't have stretched out His hand, but they moved His heart to compassion.

"And He began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him and said, 'This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed. Send them away that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.'" Jesus said that to the disciples because He wanted to test them. He said, "Give them something to eat," and they said, "How are we going to do this?" The disciples didn't have the level of God's spirit that Jesus had. They said, "Send them away into the villages to buy themselves bread." That is a very natural thing.


We don't have the capacity to have compassion on others, to really love others. "Well, send them away." That is us; no compassion. That is not in the heart of God. We don't have any right to really judge others. Jesus said, "No. You give them something to eat." It is mentioned in John's gospel that they found a young boy there with five loaves and two fishes. Jesus had the power to make the natural food He wanted without those loaves and fishes, but He said, "What do you have?" They looked around and found the boy with the loaves and fishes, and Jesus took it and blest it.


In order to teach us, Jesus wants something from us. Before Jesus could break the bread of life to us, He wants something from us, Proverbs 23-26 says, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways." I think of this as the loaves and fishes. "If you can give me your heart, I can bless it and it can be a blessing to others." As we sit here, we want to be conscious that we have come with the purpose that we want something from God. We have all made mistakes and we don't want to feel hopeless about it. We feel bad about it, but God can pick us up and give us some food.

When Jesus gave the bread, He didn't say, "What are your failings? What have you done?" No. He just broke the bread and gave it to them. Those disciples must have felt bad because they had said, "Send them away," but Jesus just said, "You take it and give to the people." As we prepare our hearts during this convention and as we have the right motive and purpose, God will be able to break bread to us.

Jesus condemned sin, but He didn't condemn the sinner. The heart of compassion doesn't make wrong right; wrong is still wrong, sin is still sin, but compassion helps the sinner and opens the door. In Mark 7, we read of a woman that came to Jesus and asked for help. She wasn't a Jew, but He said, "I can't give you what God has said the Jews first should be given," and He compared her to a dog. If we heard those words, how would we have felt? We might have got offended. If we get offended, there isn't much God can do for us. On the last day we can't stand before the judgment seat and say, "I was in a meeting and I heard somebody's testimony and it offended me and I couldn't serve You anymore." That will not be an excuse on the last day.

This woman's attitude was, "Yes, Lord, that is true, I am a dog, but the dogs eat of the crumbs of the children's table." She said, "I still want the crumbs." One of the doctors in Pusan, Korea, was in a high position, and when he got to know the truth, he had lots of zeal and was bringing people to the meetings. After he got to know the truth, he found that there were big adjustments in his life and he had to humble himself. One day he told us, "If I am doing anything wrong, you come and tell me and don't feel bad." Some of the workers told him straight some things, because he was doing things that were not probably the best even though it was in his zeal. But his spirit speaks loudly to me, because he wasn't offended. I hope that we will have the attitude like that woman and want the crumbs.