13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves." 16 Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." 17 They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish." 18 And he said, "Bring them here to me." 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
What can truly satisfy our deepest hunger and
longing? Wherever Jesus went multitudes of people gathered to meet
him - people from every part of society - rich and poor,
professionals and laborers, even social outcasts and pagans. What
drew them to Jesus? Were they simply curious or looking for a
healing? Many were drawn to Jesus because they were hungry for
God. Jesus' message of God's kingdom and the signs and wonders he
performed stirred fresh hope and expectation that God was acting
in a new and powerful way to set people free from sin and
oppression and to bring them the blessings of his kingdom.
God never rests in caring for our needs
Jesus never disappointed those who earnestly sought him out. We see a marvelous example of this when Jesus and his twelve disciples got into the boat to seek out a lonely place for some rest along the lake of Galilee, only to discover a crowd of a few thousand people had already gathered in anticipation of their arrival! Did Jesus' disciples resent this intrusion on their plan to rest awhile? Jesus certainly didn't - he welcomed them with open-arms. His compassion showed the depths of God's love and care for his people. Jesus spoke the word of God to strengthen them in faith and he healed many who were sick.
God multiplies the little we have to bring great blessing to others
As evening approached the disciples wanted Jesus to send the people away. Jesus, instead, commanded his disciples to feed the whole crowd. Why did Jesus expect his disciples to do what seemed impossible - to feed such a large and hungry crowd when there was no adequate provision in sight? Jesus very likely wanted to test their faith and to give them a sign of God's divine intervention and favor for his people. Jesus took the little they had - five loaves and two fish - and giving thanks to his heavenly Father, distributed to all until they were satisfied of their hunger. Twelves baskets full of fish and loaves that were leftover show the overflowing generosity of God's gifts to us - gifts that bring blessing, healing, strength, and refreshment.
Bread from heaven to sustain us on our journey
Jesus' feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts (Luke 9:10-17, Mark 6:34-44, John 6:51-58, Matthew 14:13-21). What is the significance of this miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude recalled the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness under Moses' leadership and intercession for his people (Exodus 16). The daily provision of food for the people of Israel during their forty years of journeying in the barren wilderness foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would pass on to his disciples at his last supper meal on the eve of his sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience (John 6:32-35). The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, when Jesus said the blessing, broke and distributed the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, is a sign that prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper which sustains us on our journey to the kingdom of heaven.
God multiplies the little we have so we can bring his blessing to others
The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God's provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who lack?
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand, you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The Lord fills all things with blessing from above, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
"So that by every means the Lord might be known to be God by
nature, he multiplies what is little, and he looks up to heaven as
though asking for the blessing from above. Now he does this out of
the divine economy, for our sake. For he himself is the one who
fills all things, the true blessing from above and from the
Father. But, so that we might learn that when we are in charge of
the table and are preparing to break the loaves, we ought to bring
them to God with hands upraised and bring down upon them the
blessing from above, he became for us the beginning and pattern
and way." (excerpt from FRAGMENT 177)