Jesus’ miraculous “Feeding of the 5000” is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:5-13, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:5-13). I guess it made an impression on a myriad of those who witnessed the miracle, as each gospel writer (or his historical interviewees) remembered the incident and had it included it in his version of the gospel.
I think any person who attended Sunday School has heard this story more than once. It’s been many years since I first heard it in Sunday School, or even since the last time I heard it in Sunday School. But in a recent re-reading of the miracle story in Luke, I was struck by Jesus’ response when the disciples told him it was late in a deserted area and the people were hungry: “Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowds away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.’ He [Jesus] replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’ “(Luke 9:12-13)
The Gospels of Matthew and Mark also record this statement (command?) of Jesus in their accounts. I know how I would have reacted: Huh? Me? Hey, you’re the miracle-worker. What do you want ME to do?
One commentator opined on this verse that Jesus was challenging the disciples to gather their own resources and use what they had– that by turning this responsibility back on the disciples, it should make them aware that association with him included provision for every need.
More than once, as I prayed on behalf of someone’s financial situation, I have heard Jesus’ words, “You give them something to eat.” I’d think of my resources as a mere 5 loaves and 2 fish. “What are they among” such overwhelming needs? This also extends to the spiritual realm: Lord, so many people need to learn of your love and salvation. How can one person, or one church, or one group of missionaries possibly address this critical need? Here Jesus not only challenges my faith, but challenges my willingness to perhaps sacrifice. If I will give, in faith, of what I have (which is so much more than so many others have, both in the physical and spiritual realms), Jesus will do the rest. He will multiply my tiny offerings to do His work. He is only asking me to be a part of His work (what a privilege!). But it’s also a challenge to me to be compassionate and generous. And to entrust the miracles to Him.