Meals with Jesus – The feeding of the 5,000
The story of the feeding of the 5,000 appears in all four gospel accounts. Luke tells us that just before this event took place, at the start of chapter 9, that the twelve disciples have just been given power and authority by Jesus and sent out to preach the kingdom of God and drive out demons and heal diseases.
When they returned they would have been tired, and Jesus took them with him and withdrew to a town called Bethsaida to spend time together and reflect on what they have done. However the crowds follow them so they don't get the chance of a quiet break with Jesus.
As the crowds appeared Jesus doesn't get cross, instead he welcomes them and speaks to them about the kingdom of God. Late in the afternoon the disciples come to him and tell him to send the people away so they can get food and lodging. Jesus tells the disciples to give them something to eat, as he doesn't want to send the crowd away.
In Marks gospel the disciples realise it would take eight months of a man's wages to feed the crowd. In John's gospel we learn that a small boy has five barley loaves and two fish. Barley loaves were cheap loaves for the poor people, very humble bread, yet the boy gave what he had.
Jesus tells the disciples to sit everyone down in groups of around fifty. He then looking up to heaven, gives thanks and then breaks the bread. He then gives it to the disciple to feed the crowd. We are told that everyone ate and was satisfied, and there were twelve baskets full left over.
Jesus prays first then gives thanks. He is asking God to be involved and bless and use what they had, then he breaks the bread. Before anything we do we need to pray first, and ask God to be involved.
This was a miracle and has been spoken about ever since. There were 5,000 witnesses to this story. If it hadn't happened as the bible tells us, then when the story was recounted people would have said, it didn't happen like that. However it was a miracle and the story was recounted over and over again as people recalled the event and were able to say I was there when Jesus fed 5,000 people from 5 loaves and 2 fish.
In this story Jesus is sharing a feast and giving us a glimpse of heaven. Making the most of every opportunity to tell the people about the kingdom of God. He is concerned with feeding the people physically and spiritually.
In all these meals Jesus shows that he is willing to forgive and love anyone. In our first meal it's Levi, in the second meal a sinful woman, (who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, and anointed his feet with perfume), and in this weeks story it's a crowd of 5,000 people.
As we continue in this time of lent, help us to reflect on all that Jesus has done for us and the sacrifice he made on the cross for us that demonstrates how much he loves each one of us.