As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.
My thoughts (Keith Phillips):
How paradoxical! The twelve apostles were just back from their first experience of sharing the Good News and performing miracles without Jesus present with them. In order to escape the crowds and to get a bite to eat in peace, Jesus takes them across the Sea of Galilee, but then they end up feeding that crowd!
And how interesting! Jesus and the twelve had sailed to the other side of lake to eat with only five loaves of bread (I imagine them to be only good sized rolls, like at O’Charley’s, only much harder) and two fish for the thirteen of them. That’s all they produce when Jesus asked what they had available to feed the people with. And the disciples don’t seem to be too pleased about the possibility of sharing it. At first they tell Jesus to send the crowd away, and then they grudgingly insist that it would take the equivalent of almost a year’s wages to buy enough food for the crowd.
This miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, reported in all four Gospels. I’ll never forget, when in seminary, I heard about this miracle being rationalized with a non-supernatural explanation. He thought that all the people in the crowd had brought a sack lunch with them, but initially didn’t want to disclose that or to share it with anyone else. Maybe they just felt awkward, not necessarily greedy. But when the disciples divided the crowd into smaller groups of fifty or a hundred, all were able to contribute what they’d tucked away, and there was more than enough for everybody.
Well, I don’t know; I wasn’t there. Jesus “multiplying” the loaves and fishes is one explanation; this “redistribution of the wealth” is another. What I do know is that the disciples initial response confuses me. They had just come back from their first mission trip. Jesus had “ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts” (Mark 6:8). Now how do you suppose they ate on this mission trip? Jesus wasn’t with them, multiplying what little they brought with them; and they’d brought nothing with them to multiply, anyway. Surely, it was the kindness of strangers, the generosity and hospitality of others.
The focus of this miracle, or any miracle, is not on how God provides, but that God provides. After their mission journey, why didn’t the disciples know that? God does provide, God has always provided, and I should know that God will always provide. But why is it so easy for me to forget that? There has always been enough, and more than enough, to meet my needs over the years. And, the apostle Paul reminds me, “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Thought for the day: Maybe, just maybe, God wants my neighbors all around the globe to have enough to eat; and maybe, just maybe, God wants to provide for them through my sharing of the abundance that God has given me.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.