After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.
In trying to understand this passage, it is helpful to observe what happened prior so that we have proper context. When we do so, we realize a whole lot has happened before Jesus feeds the crowd. First, the disciples had exciting ministry experiences, traveling through villages preaching and performing miracles — but they are tired, and Jesus plans to take them away for a retreat (Mark 6:7-13, 30-31; Luke 9:1-6). Second, Jesus wants to get away also. King Herod has just had John the Baptist beheaded, and Jesus is grieving the death of his cousin (Matthew 14:13; Luke 9:9-10). Jesus and his disciples set sail across the Sea of Galilee. Yet, when their boat lands, they discover that thousands of people have learned their whereabouts, and their retreat will not be happening as planned. Lastly, we note that Jesus has compassion on the people and spends the day preaching and healing the sick. (Matthew 14:14; Mark 6:34; Luke 9:11)
It’s now late afternoon; everyone is hungry, and Jesus surprises his disciple, Phillip, and asks, “Where are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” Phillip realistically assesses the situation — there is no place to buy bread, and even if there was, there is no way they could ever afford what it would cost to feed such a crowd. They do not have enough money. So, it’s time to stop ministry and send everyone home.
Then Andrew pipes up, “There’s a boy here…”
Only one boy offers his lunch. That isn’t enough food. And the disciples do not have enough money. But Andrew brings the boy’s lunch to Jesus anyway. Why did this boy offer his lunch? What was he expecting could be done with so little? And why did Andrew bring it to Jesus? What was he expecting?
The great thing about kids — they don’t think that far down the road. My guess is, the disciples went around saying, “Jesus wants to feed ‘all y’all.’ Does anybody have any food to contribute?” Only a boy responds. He has no idea what Jesus is going to do. All he knows — Jesus has asked and so, he’s going to give Jesus ALL of it. This would mean no food for him. He’s been listening and watching Jesus, and considers that if Jesus is asking, he’s giving Him everything.
And that’s all it took. One boy. One lunch. And Jesus went on to feed 5,000 men, women, and children. Jesus doesn’t stop there; Jesus gives MORE THAN ENOUGH. “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing will be lost.” It took 12 baskets to hold the leftovers. Jesus filled the stomach of everyone with the overflow of their need and more. Jesus is the bread of life. All who come to him will not hunger.
- Whom do you identify within this story: Are you part of the crowd, looking to get something from Jesus, to miraculously heal something in your life — an illness, a relationship? Are you part of the crowd who is just fascinated by what Jesus says? Are you the little boy — willing to give everything to Jesus? Are you one of the disciples — feeling like the task is too big and your contribution too small?
- What’s keeping you from offering Jesus everything and giving your time, talent, and treasure for the sake of the kingdom?
Today’s devotional was prayed over and prepared by Tandi Thomas, Grace Kids Director, K–5th Grade