The Feeding of the 5000
John 6.1-13 (The Message)
After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews.
When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”
One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
The fact that the feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels shows how important it was to the gospel writers. Jesus started with only 5 small loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 men. The total number with women and children was probably far greater. Some have suggested it would be nearer 10,000. There was more than enough to go round. John tells us that 12 baskets of leftovers were gathered.
A while ago we watched the Danny Boyle film Millions I don’t know if you have seen it? It’s the story of two young boys who find a bag full of thousands of pounds and what they do with it. The younger one wants to give it away – it’s the right thing to do. This young boy is also obsessed with the saints. He knows everything about them, and they appear to him and he chats with them. So, Saint Andrew appears and tells him about the feeding of the 5,000 – after all he was there!
According to St Andrew what happened was that everyone had brought their packed lunch – they were out for the day – but they were reluctant to share it. So, when Jesus began passing round the loaves and fishes they were shamed into bringing out their food and sharing it with others. That’s why there was so much left. And Jesus said to Andrew, ‘What do you call that?’ And Andrew replied, ‘I don’t know about you – I call it a miracle.’
Now before you all message me, I am not saying that that is what happened. But what if? You see for me the point of this miracle is that Jesus is challenging the disciples to bring what little they have and to watch what he can do with it – and with them if they are willing to obey. So often we feel that we have so little to offer – but Jesus is able to take whatever we have and to turn it into something big – something to show that his kingdom has come. He can take our weaknesses to show his power.
What have you got? It really doesn’t matter if you feel that you have little to offer. If we all brought the little we have, and offered it to God, allowing him to work among us, then he will turn it into something wonderful. Today are we willing to do that?
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep,
teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command, that all your people may be gathered into one flock, to the glory of God the Father.
Team Vicar and Associate Hub Leader
(Church Wigan/South Hub)