Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Feeding the five thousand is the only miracle from Jesus’ earthly ministry recorded in all four Gospels. Each Gospel tells this story in its own way; yet they all report the same basic events. After the day of travel and healing, Jesus’ disciples approach him because they don’t have enough food to feed the crowd. Then Jesus turns the problem back to the disciples and tells them to give the crowd something to eat.
Apparently the disciples have no more food of their own either, but they come up with five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus takes the loaves and the fish and blesses them. He gives the disciples the miraculously multiplied bread, and they pass among the crowd and give the pieces to the people. The scripture narrates that the crowd eats until they are satisfied, and “the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Matthew 14:20 NIV).
Why was it so important for us to read and believe this story that the Holy Spirit moved each of the writers of the Gospels to include it? There’s one thing we can be sure of: it was not in order to teach us about food. One reason the Spirit has preserved this story for us is so that we will learn to respond to the seemingly impossible situations of life by trusting Jesus in them.
I believe that what we are to do with impossible situations of life can be summed up in the words of Jesus, recorded for us only here in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus says, “Bring them here to me” (Matthew 14:18). He does not give us a magic formula to solve our problems on our own. Rather, he gives us himself, and invites us to put our faith in him.
Jonathan Lee, pastor, Christ’s Community Moravian Church,
Maple Grove, Minnesota