Summary: When we face a problem, our immediate reaction is to reach into our pocket and count our change; we want to see how much emotional or physical currency we have on hand to meet the crisis.
Let’s play Final Jeopardy! The category for Final Jeopardy is the Bible. The Answer is: “Other than Jesus’ resurrection, this is the only miracle mentioned in all four gospels.” You have thirty seconds. Good luck.
If you said, “What is the feeding of the 5,000?” Then congratulations you’re correct.
Jesus performed dozens of miracles, but the feeding of the 5,000 is the only one that appears in all four Gospel Accounts. I believe that’s because God wants us to pay particular attention to the lesson of this miracle.
I’m calling it the Miracle of the Minnows and Muffins, because we’ve always heard about the five loaves and two fish. Don’t make the mistake of visualizing five loaves of Wonder Bread and two nice-sized Tilapias. The language used to describe the unknown lad’s lunch indicates that the bread were what we’d call mini-muffins. And the fish were tiny, like sardines. They could be spread on the bread to give it a little fishy taste. You might think of it as an Israeli Happy Meal—just enough for one little boy. But we’re going to see Jesus supersize it!
Mark 6:30-44. “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 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.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 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. 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. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’ When they found out, they said, ‘Five—and two fish.’ Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 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. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.”
It had been a tough time for Jesus. His home synagogue had rejected Him and the citizens of Nazareth tried to stone Him. Then after the disciples returned, Jesus got word that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded by Herod Antipas, the man Jesus would later call, “that fox.” As God, Jesus knew all this would happen. As a man, Jesus grieved for His friend and forerunner. He and the disciples were physically tired and hungry.
Jesus tried to get away and get some rest. So they got into a boat and sailed north, but the crowd on the shore tracked their progress and when they landed on the northeastern shore of the lake, thousands of people were waiting for Him. Jesus could have gotten in the boat and sailed away, but instead He had compassion on them; they were like sheep without a shepherd. So in spite of His own fatigue, He started teaching them.
When suppertime came, they were faced with an impossible task. How do you feed 5,000 men and their families in a remote area? James Tissot, a French artist, painted one of my favorite depictions of this miracle. The rocky hills where you see the people look exactly like the area around the Sea of Galilee today. By the way, I love the fact that Jesus was an organizer. He had the people grouped together. That’s the only way you can handle a crowd of 5,000 people.
We do the same thing here at Green Acres. There will be about 5,000 gather here today, and the only way we can really function as a congregation is for people to break up into smaller groups. We call them Sunday morning Bible study groups. Some of our groups have fifty, some one hundred, some have two hundred. If you’re not part of a Sunday Morning Bible Study group you’re missing out on the miraculous feeding of the Word of God that happens each week.