On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
Comment: The story line is simple. The crowds anxious to hear and maybe wanting for someone they knew to be healed follow Jesus to a semi-deserted place. A very long teaching session follows; it gets late; there are no nearby shops; the people are hungry; Jesus tells his disciples to feed them, but they have only two fish (and not large barramundi!) and five loaves of bread. There were five thousand plus people and when Jesus said ‘set them out and feed them’, the disciples obeyed. I’ve read that some have said that sitting them in groups made the people bring out what they had and share it. But the story doesn’t read that way – somehow Jesus turned the little into enough. Not only did Jesus turn it into enough but there was a large excess (which doesn’t fit into the alternative non-miraculous explanation).
Why? It fits in with Jesus as the miracle worker. I suspect that the people liked having free feeds and, as the thought that Jesus might be the Messiah was spreading, they thought that maybe he was and they wanted a Messiah who would overthrew the Romans and make the Jews the top-dogs, having all the blessings of God.
I suspect that it was meant to take their minds back to the forty years in the wilderness. At that time God had given them small birds and ‘manna’ from heaven. The One who could provide like that was God alone. It was meant to show that this Man Jesus was indeed the Messiah! They had stomach satisfaction; they were also meant to be getting knowledge/spiritual satisfaction. Certainly in Luke’s book there is evidence that many were thinking this way. It brought hope to some and opposition to others.
Prayer: As always please give me wisdom as I look at things, think and choose.