All weekend the crowds had been flocking to the park to hear Jesus and the disciples. From morning to evening they continued to come in, carrying the sick on litters. As the week progressed, more and more gathered as the crowd grew.
By midweek it had reached about 5000 men, women and children. The weather was pleasant. There was little rain.
But the people hadn’t brought enough food with them.
They were starting to run out. There were no commercial facilities nearby, nowhere even to purchase food. But even though the people were certainly growing hungry, they would not go away.
There was a rumor passing through the crowd that Jesus had chosen this time and this place to declare himself king, and no one was ready to leave. The crowd’s enthusiasm was continually growing. Although no one had said a word about this to Jesus he certainly knew what was going on. Even the apostles had been hoping for this.
As you stand within the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, built over the very spot where all this took place two thousand years ago, you can picture the excitement building up in the crowd, and maybe even start to feel pangs of hunger. We read in the Bible (Mark 6:35-36): “By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’”
Not wanting to send the crowd away hungry, Jesus said to them (6:37): “You give them something to eat.” This was too much for them, they answered: “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
Then, turning to the disciples, Jesus explained that they were like sheep without a shepherd and that he did not want to turn them away hungry. “I would like to feed them,” he said.
“What food do we have with us?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five loaves, and two fish.” (6:38)
Picture the Master standing for a moment in silence,
a faraway look in his eyes. The apostles silently look on with expectancy. “Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.” (6:39-40)
Then Jesus took the five loaves and two fishes, looked up to heaven, and breaking the loaves began passing the bread and fishes out to his disciples, who set it before the people, and the Bible tells us that “They all ate and were satisfied.” (6:41-42) Not wanting to see any of the food wasted, he then told his disciples to collect what remained and they carried off 12 baskets of leftovers. The Master had performed a creative miracle and fed 5000 men, women and children with five loaves and two fishes.