Feeding Five Thousand
(Matthew 14.13-21; Mark 6.30-44; Luke 9.10-17)
1Jesus crossed Lake Galilee, which was also known as Lake Tiberias. 2A large crowd had seen him work miracles to heal the sick, and those people went with him. 3-4It was almost time for the Jewish festival of Passover, and Jesus went up on a mountain with his disciples and sat down.
5When Jesus saw the large crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we get enough food to feed all these people?” 6He said this to test Philip, since he already knew what he was going to do.
7Philip answered, “Don't you know that it would take almost a year's wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?”
8Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, 9“There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?”
10The ground was covered with grass, and Jesus told his disciples to tell everyone to sit down. About 5,000 men were in the crowd. 11Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat.
12The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted. 13The disciples gathered them up and filled twelve large baskets with what was left over from the five barley loaves.
14After the people had seen Jesus work this miracle, they began saying, “This must be the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15Jesus realized that they would try to force him to be their king. So he went up on a mountain, where he could be alone.
Throughout Jesus’ life and ministry he asked questions he already knew the answer to. He did it again when he asked Philip where they would get enough food to feed the crowds that were coming upon them.
The Bible says it was a test.
On the surface Jesus’ question was about food. But he was really asking, “Do you know who I am?”
As Jews, the disciples knew Moses had prophesied that a Prophet would come. They also knew the history of their people, and how God had fed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna. If Jesus’ disciples were putting two and two together, and if they truly believed at this point that Jesus was God, the answer to this question would have been to acknowledge that Jesus would have no trouble feeding them. Day after day, year after year his Father had fed a whole nation in the wilderness.
That’s why Jesus asked. He wanted to know if they were paying attention. Had the truth of who he was settled in their hearts yet?
Philip and Andrew may not have answered correctly the first time, but by the time the meal was over, the crowds had started to make the connection. Perhaps not perfectly, but enough so that Jesus had to escape to avoid their intentions to make him king by force.
What big obstacle, or need, has God used to reveal to you who he is? When we see the mountains we are facing we must not forget that our Jesus holds all power in his hand. He is God.
Almighty God, You have made it clear that all power is in you, and have confirmed that you alone are God. Help me to remember this as I face my trials and obstacles today, so my focus won’t be distracted or my heart discouraged. In Jesus’ name. Amen.