13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
I have always wondered about this story of the feeding of the five thousand. As a kid, I imagined that Jesus was some sort of magician complete with assistants (not pretty ladies, but some rather rough looking men) who, waving heir arms in Vanna White style, would hand Jesus the five loaves and two fish. Jesus would place some sort of cloth over it… say some magical words, and as he pulls away the cloth there was food all over the grass beneath his feet.
Throughout my growing up in the faith years I have recovered it was not magic that all people, many more than imagined, were fed with the grace and blessings of a loving God. The skepticism over the years went from the disciples having extra food hidden behind the bushes… to some some sort of first century catering business starting up. Some even suggested that the people themselves already had extra food that they shared, and because of the sharing all were fed. This last speculation seems more feasible than any of the others.
There is no mention of manna from heaven as the Hebrews experienced in the desert. Just a blessing, a breaking and a giving. All were filled with twelve baskets left over. I have always wondered about the disciples who witnessed this feeding… how could they then deny, doubt and fall away from Jesus? Fill up the local baseball park in your local town with five-thousand homeless and hungry people. Gather 12 guys and Jesus out on the pitchers’s mound. Hand Jesus 5 loaves and two fish… and wait for it to happened again.
Somewhere, between the time that Jesus received the food and the time that He handed it back to the disciples to feed the people, the meal had multiplied. Here is the invisible interaction of heaven and earth, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of natural things, Jesus Christ, God, and man. It is similar to the miracle of the water turned to wine. The jugs contained water, but when the liquid was poured out, it was good wine. When did the change take place? How did the multiplication occur? Miracles are only miracles to we humans; miracles are what God does by virtue of who He is and the power inherent in His being. Jesus saw a need through His eyes of compassion; the people were hungry and needed food. He, through the power of God simply did what needed to be done. There is always the two-fold significance to the acts of Jesus. He meets a need and He shows forth the glory of God. It was done by the mingling of love and power.
The miracle happens when the twelve gathered around Jesus on the picture’s mount – who are modern day disciples, Mayor, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Business person, community leader, everyday citizen… even a preacher… feel the rebirth of life inside of them and they turn the city into a sanctuary where no one – absolutely no one is homeless or hungry. The take old abandoned buildings and build shelters and training facilities for people to learn a trade. The people of the city see their leaders caring compassion and there is a rebirth in them to the extent that they turn lose of some of their blessings to join the city in lifting people up instead of allowing them to fall. The miracle happened because He blessed, and broke, and gave to them the grace of God.
The word for us is continue the miracle of the pitcher’s mound.
Grace and Peace