Summary: Within the descriptions of the feeding of the 5000, there are a few key learnings for the church, Jesus didn't feed them he multiplied the food, but the task was the disciples, the task was their's as it is ours.
Did Jesus really feed 5000, Mark 6:35-44
I’ve been wondering a bit lately about the multiplication miracles. As a group of people who are Bible believing Christians, what is your thinking is it the same as mine? Did Jesus feed the five thousand, I don’t think he did? Before you get up and leave let me unpack this.
Three things, for a start, The disciples did, Jesus did however produce this miraculous event and there were more than five thousand who experienced the multiplication miracles.
If we unpack this a little and look at the account of Mark’s gospel we see that the disciples come to Jesus who had been teaching these people and say, “Jesus we’re out in the sticks and it’s late, send these people away to buy some food” (Moffatt paraphrase).
To which Jesus replies, “You give them something to eat”.
To which the disciples reply, “That’s going to cost a whole lot of money, eight months’ pay for one bloke, do you want us to spend that much?” (Moffatt paraphrase). You can just imagine here that Judas who was their treasurer was getting a little fretful.
So Jesus asked them how many loaves they had, their answer was five and two fish. Matthew and Luke give a very similar account of this miracle, whereas John says the bread and fish belonged to a small boy. It’s interesting that it was Andrew who brought the boy with the food to Jesus and asked the question, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:1-15) It’s interesting to see that the disciple I’m named after was not that sharp at maths either.
1) The thing is that Jesus did preform the miracle but he didn’t feed the five thousand. You may be thinking here Andrew you’re just being a bit silly about this. But for Jesus disciples this was one of those great learning moments. The disciples rock up with a problem and Jesus says well solve it, “you give them something to eat.” I found in my education the best teachers always asked you to answer your own question!
It’s interesting here that Jesus, The Word of God, The Bread of Life, not only has the answer, he provides the solution. I do wonder if he was ‘thinking come on boys you can do this, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:13-14).
My first point here however is a hands on application, the small boy may have supplied the food, Jesus preformed the miracle of the food multiplication, but without the trust they had in Jesus and their hands on service of the food distribution by the disciples the five thousand would have gone hungry.
Not only that, the word used by Jesus, “something” in Greek, “tis” is in it’s most common usage used as; why? what? which? and who?, it is only used twice in scripture as something. When the disciples say these people need a feed, it’s like Jesus is saying “well what are you going to give them?” or may be even, “you see the problem provide a solution, provide something for them to eat.”
Of course we see the goodness of God poured out as Jesus preforms this miracle.
The disciples are then trusting Jesus and in service to the five thousand taking around this food, that continues to grow, to expand, to multipy, I wonder how this practically happened, this amazing thing?
As the disciples took a loaf, most likely a divided loaf to one of the groups of fifty and broke it, did it become a full small loaf, then as it was passed to another; did this happen again and again, was this the same for the fish? For ease of distribution this is the method I favour, Jesus, The Bread of Life providing multiplying sustenance, as the disciples participated in this wonderful thing. Jesus had and I believe, has power and control of material things. But in this instance his disciples played a key part. What’s more once this crowd had eaten their fill, there were leftovers. The disciples gathered up twelve baskets full of leftovers.
2) What it took was the disciple’s trust and participation; their part in the miracle was no small thing. their hearts were right with God, they knew Jesus. Interestingly these blokes were fully involved, the baskets they used to pick up the left overs, it seems were small baskets they carried with them as part of their traveling kit. Without their efforts no one would have been feed apart from one small boy whose Mum I would pick had the good sense to send her son out that day with a decent feed.