Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
(Mark 6.30-44; Luke 9.10-17; John 6.1-14)
13After Jesus heard about John, he crossed Lake Galilee to go to some place where he could be alone. But the crowds found out and followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd. He felt sorry for them and healed everyone who was sick.
15That evening the disciples came to Jesus and said, “This place is like a desert, and it's already late. Let the crowds leave, so they can go to the villages and buy some food.”
16Jesus replied, “They don't have to leave. Why don't you give them something to eat?”
17But they said, “We have only five small loaves of bread and two fish.” 18Jesus asked his disciples to bring the food to him, 19and he told the crowd to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and handed it to his disciples, and they gave it to the people.
20After everyone had eaten all they wanted, Jesus' disciples picked up twelve large baskets of leftovers.
21There were about 5,000 men who ate, not counting the women and children.
Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins so when news of John’s death reached him, Jesus sought some time alone to deal with his grief. To put some distance between himself and the crowds, he got into a boat and headed out on the lake. Not to be put off, the crowds guessed where he would land, ran along the shore on foot, and were waiting for him when he arrived.
Even in his time of personal sadness, when Jesus saw the crowd he felt sorry for them and healed all of the sick. This endeavour took some time and as evening overtook them, the disciples suggested that Jesus should “send them away” (a more accurate translation than “let the crowds leave” v 15, CEV). They would need to return to the nearby villages to purchase food.
Instead of agreeing with them, Jesus turned their request back on them and told the disciples to give them something to eat. Apparently, they’d already done some checking and had come up with five bread rolls and a couple of fish (John indicates that this was a boy’s lunch).
For the second time that day, Jesus, now tired and hungry as well as sorrowing, had compassion on the crowds. He had everyone sit down on the grass, then took the food, blessed it and multiplied it so that, not only was there enough to satisfy everyone, there was more than enough—twelve baskets more.
When the disciples looked at the people that day, they saw intruders who had come to drain energy from them. When Jesus looked at them, he saw people in need, people he could help, people who needed to experience the grace of God in practical ways. What do you see as people come into your life?
Heavenly Father, far too often I see the world only through my perspective, my prejudices, my priorities. Today I’m asking you to help me see things differently – to see people as Jesus did, and to respond to the need for grace in their lives as he did. I pray this because of Jesus, Amen.