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Save The Leftovers

5 Loaves, 2 Fishes
                          Five Loaves & 2 Small Fishes         Monday, February 19, 2018


By James & Mary Lee Thornton

John 6:12. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. (kjv)

Most of the time after we finish a meal there is food left. We take what is left in the bowls or pots and put it in smaller containers and put them in the refrigerator. The next day or two we have what we call leftovers. We enjoy leftovers, especially those of us who were raised during the great depression when food was scarce...

Sometimes in a restaurant we ask for a doggie-bag. We take home a portion of a sandwich or a piece of steak to eat later because we are too full to finish it.

This is why Jesus sent his disciples around after everyone was full to gather up the fragments that remained. Jesus knew that someone, would be hungry tomorrow. He is telling them to,


A large multitude had gathered together to hear Jesus as he was teaching and healing in a desert place. They had traveled on foot “out of all the cities.” (Matthew 14:13) Many of them coming many miles, to see, and hear our Lord.

They had remained a whole day in the desert, and would be sure to faint on their way home without food. (Mark 6:32-36)

Jesus had compassion on them and inquired about feeding them.

John 6:5b. .., he saith unto Philip, whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6. And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. (kjv)

Jesus directed his inquiry to Philip. It is believed that it was Philip’s duty to buy supplies for the little band of disciples.

Also, as Philip was of Bethsaida (John 1:44), he must have been better acquainted with the country in which they were in than any other of the disciples.

John 6:7. Philip answered him, two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. (kjv)

Two hundred pennyworth was a sum equal to two hundred days wages, and was more than our Lord and all of his disciples were worth of this world’s goods.

Here was a need that was far beyond their human ability to supply, and our Lord seemed to want his disciples to realize this. We all, at times, have needs which are far beyond our human resources.

In Mark 6:36. some of the disciples suggested that the crowd be sent to buy their own food.

Mark 6:35. 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:
36. 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. (kjv)

But our lord did not intend for them to be sent away hungry.

Mark 6:37. He answered and said unto them, give ye them to eat. and they say unto him, shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?
38. He saith unto them, how many loaves have ye? Go and see. and when they knew, they say, five, and two fishes. (kjv)

John 6:8. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
9. There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? (kjv)

Possibly a young boy who had attached himself to the twelve and who carried their provisions, or who came on purpose to sell his bread and fish.


Barley scarcely bore one-third of the value of wheat, and was eaten only by the very poor, or during times of drought or famine.

If this lad was carrying the food-stock of the Lord and His apostles, it is an impressive but accidental hint that "for our sakes he (Jesus) became poor," and classed Himself socially with the humblest.

From this and other circumstances we may plainly perceive that the self-denying doctrine preached by Jesus and his apostles was fully exemplified in their own manner of living.


This was two small fishes caught in the lake, which were dried, salted as sardines or anchovies so they could be preserved for long periods in the hot dry atmosphere of that area.


Andrew suggests the same insufficiency of human resources to meet great human needs as is suggested by Moses, when God told him that the people would have plenty of meat.

Numbers 11:21. and Moses said, the people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.
22. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?
23. And the Lord said unto Moses, is the Lord's hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not. (kjv)

Our resources at the very best are quite exhausted.
Our best, our all, avails so very little...

This would surely apply to the numberless offers to our poor humanity, and our limited faculties to meet the moral starvation (remember this phrase) of the world.

All the philosophy, all the wisdom, all the education, that the world has to offer, even if it satisfy the few, the leisurely, the cynical, the learned, the wise men of the west, what will it do for the poor, the broken-hearted, the consciously guilty?

The good things of this life are equally powerless, and all the proposals of society, apart from the gracious operations of the spirit of God, would fail to meet the wants or necessities of the unbelieving.

Jesus will say to us, concerning our resources, as he did to Andrew concerning the five loaves and two fishes.

Matthew 14:18. He said, bring them hither to me. (kjv)

When we feel limited in our resources to help, when our humanity is exhausted in our efforts to provide the needs which we are faced with day after day, bring it to Jesus.


John 6:10. And Jesus said, make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. (kjv)


Jesus took the loaves and, Mark (6:41) says "He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves,..."

It was during the time that it was in his hands that the loaves and fishes were multiplied to an inexhaustible measure.

"...He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down;... As much as they would."


This is the lord’s method. He to his children, they to the world, in unlimited quantities. There is always enough, and more left over, when we put it into his hands.

font color=blue>John 6:12. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. (kjv)

After everyone was filled Jesus sent his apostles around through the crowd to gather the bread and the fish which was left-over, and they gathered twelve baskets of fragments. There was more left over than there was to start with.

These fragments were not crumbs which was picked up off of the ground, but pieces of bread and pieces of fish which were not eaten by the multitude.


Let us look at another occasion (Matthew 15:32-38) When Jesus feeds another great multitude of people that had brought their sick, and lame, and blind, and dumb, and many others to be healed by him. And he healed them all, and these all continued with him several days in a wilderness area with no food supplies.

Matthew 15:32. Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
33. And his disciples say unto him, whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
34. And Jesus saith unto them, how many loaves have ye? and they said, seven, and a few little fishes.
35. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
36. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
37. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
38. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. (kjv)


"I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the way."

Once again the disciples were at a loss for the supply of food, and after taking inventory of their food supplies, they had only seven loaves of bread and a few dried fish.

Once again they brought it to Jesus. Jesus took it in his hands and blessed it, and gave it back to his disciples to distribute to the multitude.

Four thousand men, besides women and children, ate all they wanted, and once again they saved the leftovers to eat another day, or give to some other needy person.


The next day (John 6:22) after this wonderful miracle Jesus used it as an example to explain to them what the "real bread" was that they needed for eternal life.

John 6:33. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (kjv)

This bread of life (Jesus) will never grow stale. It is as good today as it was 2,000 years ago. It will multiple to fill all our hunger.

The barley bread that was broken on that spring day by Jesus many years ago has long ago been assimilated back into the earth, but the real bread (Jesus) that was there that day is still being eaten by millions.


Spoken first of fragments of bread, they are symbolic of his consuming and undying interest in fragments of every kind--of time, of manhood, of every broken thing..

Jesus spoke these words as he looked out upon the multitude of troubled and broken hearts that beat beneath many a colored robe that day. All was not over when the feast was done and all were full.

The greatest thing was yet to come, and Jesus was yet to utter one of his most memorable words. There were broken pieces left, enough to satisfy other hungry men and women, and these must not be carelessly wasted. There was possibilities in the fragments which none saw but Jesus. Jesus has the special knack of seeing things that others miss.

So Jesus said to his disciples, when the people were satisfied, "Gather up the fragments,"--the broken pieces--"That remain, that nothing be lost."

We may ask, "why so much interest in fragments of bread? How could they ever be served again?"

Jesus is really saying, "Gather up the fragments, in order that not a thing perish."

The word "save" (apollum, av - perish 33, destroy 26, lose 22, be lost 5, lost 4) is the same word Jesus used in the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son. (Luke 15:3-32)

Let us look at some of the fragments that Jesus would like for us to save.


The fragments of time, minutes, hours, days, to Jesus were very precious, and he did not let any of them go to waste.

The day was not long enough. There never seemed to be enough time in the day to do his father’s business. He gathered up every fragment of time in the day and filled it full of work or prayer. Many of the most memorable scenes in the life of Jesus, that are recorded in the four gospels, took place in the night hours while other men slept.

Even so a person wasting time throws away, not the time itself only, but the opportunities and privileges which that time represents. We that have grown older realize more than ever how precious the time we have left is, take advantage of it.


Jesus knew that His Father had spoken in olden times through the Old Testament scriptures (Hebrews 1:1), and he treasured those fragments of Psalms, of Prophecy, and of the Commandments.

He gathered them together unto Himself, he came not to destroy these relics of the past, but to fulfill (John 19:33-37), to complete, and to illuminate (Luke 24:25-27), their fragmentary suggestions, that nothing be lost.

Fragments of scriptures were used by Him in His hours of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10), as weapons against Satan.

Paul also tells us that fragments of scripture are our weapons against the evil forces which come against us (Ephesians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 10:4). We value the Word of God so much that we hide it in our hearts against that day Satan comes against us.

David said, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalms 119:11)

How valuable are his words, the more so as the years come on us. As a small child I began to memorize the scripture, and as a teenager and young adult I added to this store of scripture in my mind until it was full of them.

The value of these fragments of scripture was made more vivid to me a few years ago just before my father died at age ninety-five. He had been a minister of the Gospel for much of his life. My mother had passed away some years before and he had spent many lonely hours alone. A year or two before he passed away he got to the place he could no longer live by himself, then he lived with his children, and when he came to stay with us i slept near his bed and could hear him praying and talking to his friend of many years. His night hours were spent in prayer. Over and over it would be, "sweet Jesus, precious Jesus." portions of scripture were intermingled in his prayers along with praise and thanks. At a time of life when he had no petitions, because he had no needs or wants to ask for. But he had a reservoir of spiritual strength stored up in his memory, leftovers from years of study and meditation. at times when he could not remember my name he never forgot the name of his friend, "sweet Jesus, precious Jesus."



The dearest of all to Jesus were the broken lives of men and women, and this was the passion of his heart, "That nothing be lost." the world was, and still is, full of such fragments--but Jesus was the first to see how very precious they were, and how much could be done with them.

Mary Magdalene whose womanhood had been shattered and fragmented by sin, Jesus gathered the fragments and restored her to honor and purity by his mighty love. (Luke 8:2)

Paul, the Apostle, knew the depths of sin, but he also knew the height and the width of the love of God.

1 Timothy 1:12. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13. Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
15. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom i am chief. (kjv)

And so, by the power of Christ’s love, has many a fragment of fallen nature, been gathered up and tenderly put back together again. HE CAME TO SAVE THE LEFTOVERS.

Every life that is broken, whether by poverty or disease, by folly or ignorance, by sin or sorrow, by crime or misfortune, is another call to arise and do as the Master did, who loved the fragments and gave His life that even the leftovers might be made whole.

And then there is the surprise of the accumulated leftovers.

For we read (John 6:13) when the disciples had gathered as the master had bidden them, they took up twelve basket full of leftovers.

To those who gather the leftovers there may be seven baskets (Mark 8:8), or there may twelve (John 6:13). but one thing is certain, there will be more, far more, than ever they had dared to expect.


That’s what we want to talk about for a little while, we want to make this personal, to include everyone who reads this.

Any thing the Lord does for us is far beyond our capacity to absorb, or contain, at the moment we receive it.

We have all used, or heard, the expression, "I have been feasting all day on the great service we had last night." Or maybe we have just heard a great sermon, or Bible Lesson, in which we were blessed extraordinarily.

So much was said which lifted us up, and the atmosphere around us was so charged with the presence of the Holy Spirit that it was like little particles of electricity running over us.

There is no way we could have contained all that we would like to have of that kind of blessing. What do we do?

We buy a tape or transcript of the service, and the message, and rejoice again and again listening to it later. We go home charged and regenerated, thinking, and talking about what went on during the service.

We have taken the fragments home with us to feast on the next day, in fact we live and breath that service for several days.


We share them with friends, neighbors, fellow employees, and anyone else who needs an uplifting experience.




1 Samuel 3:19. And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. (kjv)

During our Lord’s ministry for every one He healed, He fed ten. He presents himself not only and always as medicine, but as food, as the bread that nourishes true, and eternal life.


Though the people had gotten a meal in this marvelous way, they were not very thoughtful about the marvel. They ate till they had enough, and then flung the residue away. Not every one would be so thoughtless. But a great many saved enough fragments that twelve baskets were filled with the leftovers.

One would have expected these people, each one, to take his own remaining fragment as an interesting memento of the wonderful miracle. Even if it became hard as stone it would still have been there to recall the mercy and power of Jesus on an occasion of great need.

To make this study personal, I feel that there are many that have a few leftovers who need to be sharing them with others.

You may have heard a sermon which burned an indelible impression on you. You need to share it with someone. A service, a camp-meeting, a Bible Study, you may have attended, if you remember them they are leftovers of a good spiritual meal you enjoyed. You may have sermons on tape, or transcript that could be shared.

You may say that was a long time ago and the bread that I received then is stale and hard by now. Bring it to Jesus, put it back into his hands, and it will feed a multitude. This bread never becomes stale, it is eternal.

You may say that I am too old, or there have been too many things that have happened in my life that I cannot feed any one. Bring your life, your thoughts, and your experiences to Jesus, put all into His hands, and the leftovers will become food for some hungry soul.

Some preacher may have a lifetime of sermon notes, Bible lessons, memories, mementos, leftovers from by-gone days, put them on the web, write a book, share them some way with someone.

Jesus says, "THAT NOTHING BE LOST." (John 6:12)
"GIVE YE THEM TO EAT." (Mark 6:37)

Remember that we used the term "MORAL STARVATION" earlier in this lesson.

Amos 8:11, Speaks of a famine, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing of the words of the lord.

The world is facing "MORAL STARVATION," someone needs to stand up, tell the world. "Tell them I was at a service one day and heard, and felt, and tasted, of the bread of life, and I have a testimony, in fact I have SOME LEFTOVERS I would like to share with you."

The world needs to hear from someone who has been with Jesus, someone who has taken the broken bread in their hands, and eaten until full, and taken home THE LEFTOVERS.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson and will read the other studies on this web site.

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By James & Mary Lee Thornton


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