The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13).
After yesterday’s confrontation, Jesus went away with the disciples. That wasn’t out of fear of the Pharisees or Romans. They had been busy. Mark 6:31 tells us “many [people] were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat”. It was time to rest and recharge. It’s important that we are human beings and not just human doings.
Of course the crowds worked out where He was going and followed. Jesus is filled with compassion – the Greek word is literally gutted. He felt deeply for their needs. The rest and recharge refreshes compassion – it is easy to get jaded if we are worn out. Mark 6:34, “and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” John 6:3 states that “Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.” The multitude followed Him up, and Luke 9:11 tells us Jesus’ response – “and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing.”
So after the teaching they are hungry and it also the time of the Passover feast. So Jesus tests the disciples somewhat. They had seen many miracles. Would they think this issue of 5,000 hungry people could be solved with a multiplication miracle? A small boy has some loaves and some fish and Jesus does the multiplication miracle so that all are fed with 12 baskets left over. Tomorrow we will see Jesus telling us “I am the bread of life”, and we may know the saying “Man does not live by bread alone” from Matthew 4. This miracle is showing us that Jesus has plenty of eternal life for everyone who wants it.
What can we learn from the reading today?
1) Take time out to refresh yourself in the Lord
2) Ask God for more compassion, especially if you have become jaded
3) Look for teaching moments with those around you, especially those younger in the faith
4) Expect miracles to happen. Signs that make people wonder.