30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 31 Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” 32 They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place.
33 Many people saw them leaving and recognized them, so they ran ahead from all the cities and arrived before them. 34 When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.
35 Late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place, and it’s already late in the day. 36 Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves.”
37 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
But they said to him, “Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months’ pay[b] and give it to them to eat?”
38 He said to them, “How much bread do you have? Take a look.”
After checking, they said, “Five loaves of bread and two fish.”
39 He directed the disciples to seat all the people in groups as though they were having a banquet on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate until they were full. 43 They filled twelve baskets with the leftover pieces of bread and fish. 44 About five thousand had eaten.
Christ’s miracle of feeding the five thousand is unique in that it is the only miracle story that all four gospel writers mention (Matthew 14:13-21); Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14). A commonly heard explanation is that; the stories illustrate Jesus’ authority over nature and His divine intervention on behalf of others. They show that He is concerned about both human physical and spiritual needs. Jesus acts out of compassion at the sight of thousands of people who had made a great effort to hear His message of hope. Only by faith are we enabled to see that with God all things are possible. By an act of His own creative power, Jesus revealed proof of His deity to thousands.
Let’s look beyond the miracle itself to see what else can be seen:
This section of the scripture finds the apostles having returned from being out among the people, preaching and working miracles. Jesus, perceiving them to be exhausted, suggests that they go to a place to rest.
Jesus provides common food of the time and region.
The people are described as sitting in ranks by hundreds and fifties so that no one would be overlooked. Clearly, God is a God of order and not of confusion.
It was only after Jesus prayed a blessing that the bread and fishes multiplied.
The miracle was significant in and of itself but it can also show that Jesus came into the world to feed and heal and also to preserve and nourish spiritual life.
More food was left than the meager amount that the apostles had started with.
For me, the miracle of feeding the 5,000 is so gargantuan that I feel like I can’t comprehend and appreciate it. But, when I step back, and take in what else can be seen in the scripture, it helps me to realize that there is a much fuller, and beautiful, picture to see.
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a scripture story and just kept on going only to feel that you missed something? Be encouraged to make a note to come back and try again. You may be surprised at how good that can make you feel because of what is revealed the second time.
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for giving us your Word. Thank you for the gift of being in a church where we are encouraged to investigate and ponder scripture as that work brings us closer to you. Amen.