Feeding the 5000
John 6.1 - .15
Luke 9.10 - .17
Mark 6.30 - .45
Matthew 14.13 – .21
After about a two-month break I am returning to my series on the meals of Jesus. Looking at the largest recorded meal that Jesus was a part of. This meal is traditionally called “The Feeding of the 5,000” and can be found Matthew 14.13 - .21, Mark 6.30 - .45, Luke 9.10 - .17 and John 6.1 - .15. Interesting fact about this meal it is the only miracle (other than the resurrection) that is recorded in all four gospels! It is obvious to me that this event, this miracle had a huge impact on the Matthew and John as participants in the event and on the sources for Mark’s and Luke’s gospel accounts. I think I know why.
Several days earlier Jesus had sent the 12 Apostles out in pairs to teach and heal (Mark 6.1 – 13 & Luke 9.1 - .6). They were given he authority to drive out demons and heal the sick. They were told to teach in the towns and villages they went to. They were also told to “take nothing” with them. They were to rely on the LORD for their provisions. The LORD would give them a place to stay and food to eat but they weren’t to take anything with them. Shortly before they return Jesus gets the news that Herod the Tetrarch has beheaded his cousin, John the Baptist (Matthew 14.1 – 13, Mark 6.14 – 29 & Luke 9.7 - .9). When the 12 return they want to tell Jesus all about what they did and He wants to take them to a solitary place to process their trip and mourn the loss of his cousin.
So they get in a boat to go to a solitary place and are thwarted by the crowd. Jesus gets out of the boat and finds a crowd waiting for him (Matthew 14.13 - .21, Mark 6.30 - .45, Luke 9.10 - .17 & John 6.1 - .15). He sees them as sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6.34) and begins to shepherd them by teaching them about the Kingdom of God. The day is getting late and the 12 come to Jesus and ask him to send the crowd away to the surrounding towns and villages to find food cause there was no where to buy food where they were. Jesus answer is essentially “NO, you feed them.” John tells us He does this to test them and he already knew what he was going to do.
They are stunned by his answer and proceed to tell him why they can’t take care of all these people. First, they don’t have enough money it would take 8 months wages to feed them. 8 month’s wage is tremendous amount of money then and now. Secondly we only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish for ourselves. My guess is that by this point they have failed the test. Jesus tells them to give him the food and have the crowd sit down. He then gives thanks for the food, blesses it and distributes it to everyone there. Then the most amazing thing happens not only does everyone get to eat but they are filled and there are left overs!
So why is this in every gospel? What lesson did these guys learn that made them all tell it? The first lesson I see is feed your sheep; take care of the flock God blesses you with. Jesus gets off the boat and there before him is a lost crowd he sees as sheep and he begins to shepherd them by caring for their souls through teaching them and then taking care of their bodies by feeding them until they were full. The LORD blesses each of us with people we are to care for and he expects us to do that. Just like Jesus expected the 12 to care for the crowd. You may not feel like you have the resources, time, money or energy to do that! Don’t worry that brings us to the second lesson I see, the LORD can do and does do great things with the little we have. If you stop and thing about it we really have nothing compared to all that the LORD has but He takes our nothing and through his power does great things. Jesus took 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and feed over 5,000 people! Imagine what he can do with the wealth we in this country have been blessed with. These are only two lessons that I see and have the space to explore. Read these texts for yourself and feel the power of this story!