Mark 6: 30-46
The “Feeding of the 5,000” by Jesus is one of the most loved stories in all of scripture. It has always been a favorite, being the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four canonical gospels. As the story begins, Jesus is actually trying to get away from the crowds to be alone with his disciples. They needed some rest and some time to process their own thoughts. The disciples had just returned from their first missionary journey and were eager to tell Jesus all they had seen and done. But they also needed time to grieve for John the Baptist who had just been executed by Herod. People were pressing in on them and they didn’t even have a “chance to eat.”
So, they set out to get away. Have you ever noticed how many of Jesus’ great miracles are performed while he is on the way to do something else? The next time someone interrupts you remember that there are a lot of ministry opportunities in interruptions.
Moved by compassion for the people who were seeking him out, Jesus taught and preached for what must have been an extended period of time. Suddenly, it was late in the day and the disciples realized that due to the remote location, no one had anything to eat. The only resources on hand were five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus took what they had, blessed it, broke it and had the disciples distribute it to the 5,000 (actually there would have been more present, as they only counted the men). Everyone had enough to eat, and there were twelve baskets full left over.
This miracle was dramatically unlike anything Jesus had done before. The way it is remembered in the gospels demonstrates the profound impact it had on the disciples and early followers of Jesus. This is different from the healing miracles and the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Those miracles showed how the Kingdom of God is breaking into the world and rolling back the power of Satan. This miracle is different than the nature miracles, which show Jesus’ power over the wind and the sea. In this miracle Jesus actually multiplied the loaves and the fish, which means that he actually created something out of nothing. This is a creation miracle. Jesus demonstrates to those who are paying attention that he is God the creator.
First, Jesus makes sure that the disciples understand that they cannot solve the problem at hand. They are in a remote place, and even if that were not true there certainly isn’t enough money to purchase the necessary provisions. But in the hands of Jesus, what little they have turned out to be enough. That is a good allegorical lesson that can be drawn from this story, and it is true. However, the main emphasis of the story lies behind the allegorical interpretation of Jesus’ actions. The emphasis is placed squarely on who Jesus is. He is the God of creation. He is the God who fed the Israelites with manna in the wilderness. He is God incarnate in human flesh.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made…” (John 1:1-3) We need never fear meeting a God who is any different that the God we meet in Jesus Christ.