Feeding the 5000 – The Miracle

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

The people sit on the grassy slope, organized into groups of 50. (See Feeding the 5000 – Let’s Get Organized)

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven and blessed them. Mark 6:41a

I like to savor this line as I picture the Son of God lifting these meager offerings to the Father. He looks up to heaven, gives thanks, and gathers in God’s majestic power for what He is about to do. It is a high and holy moment. I imagine a hush falls over the people.

Then breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. Mark 6:41 b

Forgive me, but I tend to wonder about insignificant things and this is one of those times. Do we assume there were twelve baskets, one for each disciple? If so, where did the baskets come from? The disciples had previously been on the sea. Surely they didn’t have room for twelve baskets plus all the men in the boat.

Perhaps we can assume they borrowed some from the crowd. Pardon my need to know all the details! It does help us, though, to immerse ourselves in the setting. 

Jesus busily breaks bread into the baskets. The disciples move through the crowd feeding this group of fifty and the next group. I imagine little paths of grass around each group so the disciples can get to everyone and see who has been fed and who hasn’t.

Once again, this all takes time.

What do we hear from those in the crowd? Maybe—”Where did all the bread come from?” “It seems like He is multiplying the pieces!”

And from the back of the crowd—”Will they run out before they get to us?”

“The disciples are running back to get more and more.”

“It is almost like his miracles of healing, but to feed this many, how can it be?”

He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted. Mark 6:41-42

How are the disciples themselves responding to all of this? Maybe they are wide-eyed with wonder as they watch the baskets filling again and again. They may be the only ones who know that Jesus started with just five loaves and two fish. Perhaps they look at each other in amazement and laugh out loud with delight.

After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people. John 6:11-13

One day Jesus would say,

I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

Indeed He is the one who nourishes us, the one who sustains us and supplies our every need.

But, why did Jesus perform this miracle? Let’s explore that question next week.

~ Joyce ~


Feeding the 5000 – Let’s Get Organized

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Okay, now we have something to work with to feed 5000+ people—five barley loaves of bread and two fish. (See Feeding the 5000 – Time to Eat) Not a lot to go on, but then it wouldn’t be a miracle if the food was already plentiful, now would it?

Being an organized person, I love the next scene in this power-packed day. Jesus saw the need for getting things organized and he asked the disciples to help Him. We have hind sight. We know what’s going to take place, but they didn’t.

Jesus gives two instructions. Pretty simple.

Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” Luke 9:15

Sit on the grass (the” grassy slopes” John says)—in groups of 50. Easy breezy, you say? But look at the crowd! We discover they are 5000 strong.

I’m going to give you a little sneak preview of how I plan to construct this scene in my next book about Matthew.

Peter stood straight up, hands on hips. “He wants us to do what?”

Matthew turned to Peter, “He wants the people to sit in groups of 50 or so.”

Gesturing to the crowd of thousands, Peter complains, “You mean we have to count off to 50 that many times?” 

“Peter, can you usually get about ten men in a boat?”

“A big boat.”

“Just think five boatloads in each group.”

“Oh, I see.” So Peter shouts over to some of the other fishermen disciples and repeats the plan.

Matthew smiles and quickly sums up a group of ten men. “The master wants you to sit on the grass,” he tells them. As they sit, he motions another group of ten to join them. Then another ten, “Will you join this group, please?” And so forth for five tens—fifty!

Then he turns to another group of ten. “Please form a new group by sitting here.” To another ten, “Please join this new group.” And on and on.

Keep in mind that they’re going to need 100 groups of 50. That means each disciple must organize about eight groups of 50. As you can see, it’s a mammoth task, but with each disciple helping, it is do-able. It will take time, however. 

No doubt some in the back begin sitting when they see others sit. Then you have the problem of asking some to get up and move to form separate groups. Nothing is easy when you’re dealing with massive groups of people.

I imagine the disciples have been so busy with the “project” that they haven’t considered what’s coming next. They will eventually realize that all this preparation will serve them well. They will be able to move around the people and know who has been served and who hasn’t. Much more orderly! A great lesson for us in the value of planning ahead.

Next week is the big climax. How amazed the disciples and the people will be when Jesus feeds them all with just five loads of bread and two fish.

~ Joyce ~



Feeding the 5,000 – Before the Feast

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We’ve looked at “points of view” coming from the four gospel writers on several happenings in the life of Jesus. When we looked at the feeding of the 5,000, you may remember I said I might want to revisit that exciting day in more detail. That will be our focus for the next few weeks.

What was happening before the great feast? I think it’s always important to get the setting, set the stage so to speak.

At some point in the time line, Jesus heard about John the Baptist’s terrible death. Recall the story. Herod caved when his wife, Herodias, (through her daughter) asked that the head of John the Baptist be brought to her on a platter .

As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. Matthew 14:13

What do you do when you have received tragic news? You may want to have the love and support of close friends or family, but, at some point, you may just want to be alone to collect your thoughts and deal with your emotions in private.

My hunch is that Jesus wanted to be alone with God and gather the inner strength he needed from his heavenly Father. Very possibly, Jesus thought about how he, too, would one day come under the cruelty of those in high places.

Think of those times in your life when the weight of tragedy or trying experiences brought you to a low ebb. Perhaps frustrations with a job or the cruelty of unkind words struck the very core of your spirit. Somehow, with God’s help, you managed to continue to function. It is in this kind of human condition, we find Jesus.

Later, when He looks up toward the shore, He sees his disciples who have returned from their ministry tour of the villages of Galilee where he said:

“Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” Matthew 10:7-8

He shares in their excitement, glad to see their happy and hear their stories, then he tells them,

“Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Luke 6:31

After more sharing, He looks at the shore where the crowds are gathering to meet him. I envision him sighing greatly and whispering, “Give me strength, Father.” Then we see his heart.

…as he stepped from the boat, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Mark 6:34

He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick. Luke 9:11

Jesus moved forward in the strength God gave him—an important lesson for us. For you see, that same power is available to us as we push out alone in out boats to receive healing and inner strength from our Lord. May it be so for us all this week.

~ Joyce ~