14:13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
14:14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.
14:15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
14:16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
14:17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”
14:18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.”
14:19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
14:20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.
14:21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
This is a well known passage of scripture. Whenever I come across this portion of scripture, I am always reminded of hearing this story being told as a child. In that moment of listening to my teacher tell it, I often thought about what it would have been like to be there to witness five loaves and two fish suddenly turn into massive feast big enough to feed five thousand people.
This act that Jesus portrayed was nothing short of a miracle. There were many miracles that Jesus did and this was one that truly speaks to His unmatchable power and control. This was not just about being able to feed those who were hungry, this was done so that everyone could witness that Jesus Christ has the ability to work in ways that no one or anything else can. His power has no limits and knows no boundaries.
I love how this passage begins with Jesus simply taking compassion and showing love towards the crowd. Although He was seeking to have some alone time, He never put His needs above others. Jesus was on a mission to spread the Gospel to everyone who He came into contact with and never missed out on an opportunity to do so. He loves people with an everlasting and unwavering love and that was the true message behind the miracle.
The story of Jesus multiplying the fishes and loaves, so that the multitudes could eat, is not just a miracle story. Jesus was sending more than one message that day. Jesus called himself the bread from Heaven. There is another important figure in Jewish history that was associated with bread from Heaven. Certainly the crowd would have been thinking about Moses as Jesus began multiplying the loaves. But Jesus was not merely multiplying the bread. He WAS (and IS) the bread of heaven.
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. (John 6:32-36)
There is nothing that can sustain us in this world except the bread of Heaven. Like the Israelites in the desert, we too are in need of God’s life giving power. Yet we are not dependent on physical bread but the bread of life that is Jesus Christ.