John 6 opens with the Savior and His disciples on a mountain, a place of sacredness, perhaps for personal meditation or to prepare for the coming Passover. Christ did have trials and sorrows in His mortal life. Though He was always the perfect example of Heavenly Father’s ways, the world around Him was not. However, He chose to focus on righteousness rather than the trials—and certainly, part of this was noticing and placing the needs of others above His own. For any of us, that’s not an easy thing to do. There were plenty of difficult things going on in the Savior’s life that He might have needed to ponder and pray about, but at some point, Christ looked up and acknowledged the crowd that had followed Him.
Let’s look at what the Savior did when He saw the multitude in this account. He noticed their hunger and asked His disciples how their needs could be filled. He asked if there were traditional or expected solutions to the problem, partly to recognize this as a first step and partly to make sure those around Him acknowledged the absence of normal means to solve the problem. When there was not a way for the crowd to feed themselves, He provided divine intervention. He took what seemed a meager offering and fed the five thousand. When it was done, He gathered what was left so that nothing would be lost. There was an abundance left over to gather.
There are two lessons here for the disciple.
The first is the role of the Savior in our lives. He sees our needs. He asks us to look for the normal and reasonable ways to help ourselves, but He doesn’t leave us alone when these options prove insufficient. At that point, His divine intervention is always available. He takes the little we have to offer and turns it into more than enough to fill our needs. His grace and love is unlimited. There will always be more than enough. He’ll never run out of ability and ways to help us if we offer up our part and accept His offering in return. He has more than 5000 ways to succor up His disciples.
The second is our role in following His example. Because we serve and follow Him, our priority is helping and serving our fellow man in His name. We follow the same pattern as the Savior. First, we notice others more than ourselves. Second, we look for normal and available means of helping the person or allowing them to help themselves. When this is not an option, we take our meager offering, the little bit we can do for them, and offer it to the Lord to magnify. Then, there will be more than enough for all. Lastly, we notice what has been accomplished and gather those blessings to us so that nothing is lost and we are sustained until the next time we can be of service.
Just as the Savior’s capacity to love and serve us knows no bounds, this is the attitude we are trying to develop. Start a service record or journal. How long will it take you to provide 5000 acts of service, and what do you think will be left when you and those you associate with have been filled?
Perhaps more importantly, how long will it take before you’ve recorded 5000 ways the Savior has blessed you?
This article was originally published in May 2008. Minor changes have been made.