During the time of Jesus’ ministry, he and his disciples were teaching near the town of Capernaum. Hundreds of people were turning out to hear Jesus speak or to seek healing. Jesus gets word that his cousin, John the Baptist, has been executed and, recognizing that they all need a break, Jesus calls the disciples away from the crowds. They travel by boat to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, near Bethsaida.
Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly traveling incognito so many people run around the north shore of the lake and wait for them to arrive. When Jesus sees the thousands who have gathered, he puts his own fatigue aside and ministers to 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. Mark 6:34, NIV
Jesus is busy healing people and teaching them about the kingdom of God. As early evening approaches, the disciples notice it is past suppertime for everyone, and urge Jesus to send the people away to the local villages to buy food and arrange for lodging.
Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” Luke 9:12, NIV
Jesus decides to test the faith of his disciples and also set up an important illustration that he’ll use later.
But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’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.” Mark 6:37-38, NIV
Jesus tells the disciples to have the people sit on the grass in groups of 100 and 50. He then looks to heaven, blesses the food and begins to break it apart. As he does so, the bread and fish miraculously multiply.
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 distribute to 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. Mark 6:41-44, NIV
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” John 6:14, NIV
By the following morning, Jesus and his disciples are back in Capernaum. Many in the crowd have followed them back around to the other side of the lake, and are looking for Jesus, when he begins an interesting conversation about bread.
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:25-35, NIV
Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes not only to satisfy the transient physical hunger of the crowd, but to teach the people about spiritual hunger. He pointed to himself as the bread of life, by which they’d never experience spiritual hunger again.
The hungry crowd’s story was one of hunger, but God’s provision was one of food.
Join me tomorrow for a story involving a large boat, an animal menagerie, and a provision of safety!
If you’ve missed any part of this series, you can find all of the posts in the side bar category 31 Days of God’s Provision.
On the journey toward Home,