The Disciples were just like us. They were human, they were dumbstruck, they did not know what to do, except send everyone away. And they offered that thought to Jesus. After all, it was evening, and they were in a deserted place, the people needed to go into the villages to buy food for themselves. It was a logical thing to suggest, and it made sense. It would have made sense to us, too, if we were in that situation. “Call it a day. Go after it again tomorrow.”
But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
You probably already know their answer, because this story is not new to you. Everyone knows the story of the loaves and the fishes and the feeding of the five thousand. It has plagued and instructed people for years; as they heard it, and made effort to figure out how it all happened.
The disciples replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” It certainly was not a bounty of the Bake Shop, or of the sea. It was meager at best. Hardly anything. Nothing really.
Jesus said, “Bring the loaves and fish here to me.”
“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 the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was leftover of the broken pieces, 12 baskets full.”
If you have read this story, if you have come this far and have not wondered how this all happened, let me give you a very simple answer, a very complicated thought, one that is not offered often, even in the biblical framework: This was a miracle produced by God, for his Son, and the people who needed to be fed.
You can say it was a point of mutual sharing; that the people gathered had food stored in the pockets of their tunics, and that might be so. It could be that the women, and the children who were with the 5,000 probably had food, that was offered at that moment, so everyone could be fed; and that would also be a very good explanation.
But in suggesting any of that, we forget that the collective minds of five, six or seven thousand people do not operate with the smoothness of the actions presented in the story. Nothing was necessary from them to do. The people only needed to open their hands and receive, and they were fed. It was a miracle, and it happened just that way; that’s all. AMEN
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.