Monday, January 4, 2010
1/5/10- Feeding of the 5,000
(Feeding of the Five Thousand- Jaccopo Bassano)
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. 35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." 37 But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
They said to him, "That would take almost a year's wages ! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?" 38 "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five—and two fish." 39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Calvin Abridged: Mark and Luke speak of Jesus crossing over in order to rest, while Matthew speaks of Jesus wanting to get away because of John’s death. The vast crowd that had gathered shows how famous he was. But John indicates that only a very small number had a true and steady adherence to faith (Jn 6:66). Mark states more clearly than the rest of the gospels why Jesus had compassion on them. He saw famishing souls (like sheep without a shepherd) whose warm zeal had carried them out into the wilderness. Christ was fatigued and almost worn out by uninterrupted toil, yet his compassion moved him so that he did not spare himself additional work. He willingly lays aside his personal feelings. Luke says he spoke to them about the kingdom of God. The people were so absorbed with his teaching they did not think of stopping to eat. It was too late to send them away- and Christ delayed to show them the miracle. He does not prevent their need, nor does he immediately fill it, yet he never stops caring for their needs. Christ not only cared for their souls, but he also cared for their bodies (Mt. 6:33). Christ is not concerned with providing his people with refined luxuries, but he asks us to be satisfied with basic bread. He sat them in groups so they might see the miracle more clearly, so the count would be accurate, that they might bear testimony to God’s favor, and that the disciples might obey when it made no sense to gather into groups without any food. He gave them the loaves to involve them in the miracle and power of God. Christ blessed the food- giving thanks, which sets us an example of eating in holiness and purity. 20- “what was left” The fragments of what remained was twelve times larger than the quantity first put into their hands, and this contributes to the wonder of the miracle. The proof of the miracle was the remnant that they could think about at their leisure. This miracle indicates that the food which we eat proceeds from his grace.
Thoughts: This is the only miracle found in all four gospels. In a recession when there is not as much to go around, it is important to realize we are not on our own. God is our provider. The odds of feeding so many with so little were impossible. But God takes the little that we have- when we put it in his hands, blesses it, and then turns it into a multiplying miracle. After this miracle some wanted to make him king by force (Jn 6:15), but Jesus withdrew.
Prayer: God our provider, help us to find you are the bread of life, and you are our provider.