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What Happened to the Miracle Leftovers?

Loaves and fishes in a basket about what to do with miracle leftovers.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes in which Jesus fed 5,000 men, in addition to many women and children, is the only miracle Jesus performed that is mentioned in all four gospels. In Matthew 14:14-21, the longest account dedicated to the miracle, the crowd “took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” In John 6:12, Jesus tells his disciples to “gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

What Does the Miracle Mean?

Scholars disagree on the exact meaning of the miracle, but I wonder how many have pondered about what happened to the leftovers. Have you ever wondered what the people in the crowd sitting in the grass did with baskets of broken pieces? Perhaps the baskets were full of useless crusts and bones.

Considering who performed the miracle, I believe there were twelve baskets of tasty leftovers, enough for a feast.

The Lord still provides abundantly for his people out of his unlimited riches.

  • As followers of Jesus Christ, we receive baskets and baskets of resources throughout our lives.

  • As servants of the Lord, we receive personal and material resources to fulfill our God-given destiny in specific areas of our lives.

  • As believers who accepted Jesus as their personal savior, and received the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, we receive spiritual gifts to serve and sustain the kingdom of God on earth.

What Happens to Your Leftovers?

What do you think happens to your leftovers, the graces you ignore, the resources you waste, the spiritual gifts you neglect? I’ll be the first to admit I have plenty of leftovers. And I’ll also admit I don’t thank God often enough for his graces and favor, and the personal resources and spiritual gifts he has given me? Of course, it would never be enough, would it?

I’ve heard it said that when we don’t use the graces, resources, and gifts God gives us, he allocates them to other people who would appreciate them more, and put them to better use. Unless I missed it, I’ve found no scriptural basis for this idea. And as we read in 2 Corinthians 9:8, God gives us all we need to “abound in every good work.”

Why would we need someone’s leftovers?

When Our Cup Overflows

Yes, God gives us all we need to “abound in every good work,” not in vain, for sinful or wasteful purposes. And God wants us to know that when our cup overflows with all he generously gives us, WE should dispense our leftovers to those who could benefit from the personal and material resources with which he’s blessed us. WE should use the spiritual gifts bearing fruit in the lives of others we serve. He will take care of the graces. He loves loving us!

Additional reading:

Listen to God's Words

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Also read: Ephesians 2:8-9, Colossians 4:5, 1 Peter 4:10-11

In the Words of Others

“Ah! If there be degrees in glory, they will not be distributed according to our talents, but according to our faithfulness in using them.” C. H. Spurgeon

“As God's children, we are not to be observers; we're to participate actively in the Lord's work. Spectators sit and watch, but we are called to use our spiritual gifts and serve continually.” Charles F. Stanley

Think About It

  • List three personal and three material resources God has given you. Have you used them to the best of your ability? If not, what do you have as leftovers to give away?

  • List the spiritual gifts with which you think the Holy Spirit has blessed you. Have you used them to the best of your ability, to the fullest? If not, what can you do to improve?

  • List the graces and favor God has given you? Have you thanked him, and used them to serve him by helping others? If yes, explain how. If not, how can you begin?


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