Tuesday, May 31, 2011
THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND
Jesus looks up and takes a deep breath. He particularly enjoys a breezy day sitting on the mountainside, fresh air fills his soul. Overlooking the vast lake from his view, he orders his disciples to sit down and rest a while. “Look, Master!” Peter points to some distance away. Jesus turns around and sees a crowd heading towards them. The disciples groan at the lack of privacy, especially when they want the Messiah to themselves. As their Master’s fame being reported far and wide, to every nook and corner, they know this will be inevitable. How they wished that today they would just rest and reflect of all that have happened. It has indeed been fast and furious. The disciples have seen how Jesus never shows signs of fatigue or apathy, like this is his cup of tea. Like he is born to serve, heal and deliver.
Looking at the people’s faces, Jesus senses physical exhaustion but definitely not the enthusiasm. They may have walked few hours to reach where he is and way past lunch time. “Teacher, perhaps, we should send them away to get food,” Peter suggests. The rest of the disciples nod in agreement. It is perhaps a good excuse to dismiss the crowd on a tired day.
“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Jesus turns to Philip. Philip looks at his Master stunned, as if he did not hear that. The control in Jesus’ tone of voice makes it even scarier. “He doesn’t seem like joking. Or maybe he doesn’t know that we are not that rich,” Philip thinks to himself.
“Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Philip reminds his Teacher of the herculean task ahead. Even if they had enough money, the logistic would be incredibly hard.
“You have to give them something to eat,” Jesus speaks compassionately to his disciples. He knows that sending them away at this hour would be disastrous in this remote region. Furthermore, with such a huge crowd, about 5,000 men alone, it can even cause a riot.
All of a sudden, Andrew jumps up, “I have an idea. Let us ask some people to share their food that they brought for the trip.” He gathers the rest to look for willing donors. Hungry people can become selfish people they soon found out. Only Andrew’s enthusiasm got him a small lunch pack. And that is from a young boy whose heart of sacrifice is larger than so many grown men and women. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” he turns to Jesus dejectedly, his plan failed miserably. Jesus pats him on the back for trying.
Finally Jesus stands up and tells his disciples to arrange people to sit on the grass in orderly fashion. He takes the loaves from the small boy, looks up to the clouds and prays “Father, thank you for your provision.” Right in front of thousands of prying eyes, the loaves which he breaks miraculously whip back to their original shape. Then he proceeds to break the fishes and they appear again whole. The crowd roars in rapturous awe. Their hunger temporarily forgotten!
Jesus signals to his disciples to feed the crowd and let them eat as much as they want. With awe and disbelief, the disciples quickly dispense all the foods to the people. They cannot imagine that they can ever witness such 'hand of God' at work. Everyone, from young to old, eats to their hearts’ content. The boy who gave the initial lunch is surrounded by people thanking him for his generosity. When the disciples collect the leftovers, it fills twelve baskets full. God always leaves no one unsatisfied when He blesses.
One man from within the crowd shouts, “Jesus, you are the Prophet who is to come into the world.” He whips up a commotion, people shouting on top of their lungs for the Miracle Worker to be their King. When they start to stand up, Jesus quickly withdraws into the other side of the mountain. He has a plan far greater than what men conceive in their mind.
The disciples crave for the day that Israel will become a proud nation again. Their Master must be the One to lead them after what he has done today. Nothing is impossible for him. The well-fed crowd want not only food today, but someone from God to help them all the time. Jesus must be the One, compassionate yet invincible. The young boy walks home with a great story to tell. Suddenly he is reminded of the story of King David. “With a small stone and a sling, he killed Goliath. I gave away a small pack of lunch and it fed thousands. It must be God! And…..Jesus is …..”
The above story is taken from John 6:1-15. (See also Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44 and Luke 9:10-17)
Next: Walking on Water