Matthew 1436-18; Mark 6:37-38; Luke 9:13; John 6:4-9
A few days after Jesus heard about John the Baptist’s death, He had to go out and help a huge crowd of people. He did not even have time to eat. He also felt so very sad because His cousin John was dead. The more He heard the crowds call out for Him, the wearier He became, and so Jesus called Peter. He pointed to a boat beached nearby. “I must be alone, let’s go away and rest a while.”
Jesus and His disciples went in the boat by themselves to a lonely place where they prayed for each other. God made them stronger and surer of what they were doing. The crowd knew that Jesus had gone away somewhere and they tried to find out where. It did not take long before even more people crowded the shores of the lake to watch for the boat. When they saw Jesus’ boat heading back to shore, a great shout went up. People from many cities ran up and down the beach. When the boat carrying Jesus and His disciples finally landed, many of the people waded out to meet it.
“Jesus! Jesus!” They called to Him.
All that afternoon He told them stories and taught about the love of God. The crowd was so huge, it stretched out for miles. The sun shone and birds sang. It was a beautiful day. The people sat on the sand and the grass. They listened and watched as Jesus healed the sick and prayed for them. In some ways it felt just like a big picnic but there was one thing missing, there is always food at a picnic. As the afternoon wore on, more and more of the people complained about how hungry they were. Finally, in the evening, the disciples came to Jesus to suggest that He send the people home so they could get something to eat.
“At least let them go and find some food in the nearby villages.” They said.
Jesus looked at the thousands of people around Him. They were excited by all they had learned that day and He did not want to end the teaching quite yet. He said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for all these people?”
Philip stared at Jesus. “Why, it would take eight months of work to pay for all the food this crowd would eat and even then they would only get a few pieces of bread each.”
Then Andrew, Peter’s brother, came up to Jesus. “There is a little boy here who has five loaves of bread and two fish, but that’s not much, is it?”
Jesus’ disciples did not know it, but He had asked them to feed the people for a reason. He was trying to teach them yet one more lesson about having faith in God’s love. Jesus told the people to sit in small groups, then He thanked the little boy who had given his bread and fish.
When Jesus held up the five loaves and the two fish everyone stopped talking. He looked up and thanked God for giving them something to eat then He blessed the food and broke the loaves. Then, He passed them to the disciples so they could give them to the people. Then, something very special happened! Jesus gave more and more bread to the disciples and even when the disciples’ baskets were empty and they came back for more Jesus put even more bread and fish in the baskets.
He gave more and more and more until all the thousands and thousands of men, women and little children had eaten enough. Afterwards the disciples collected the crusts and bones and fish heads and other scraps left over from the meal. When they had finished, there were twelve baskets of leftovers! It was a miracle!