If you, like me, were raised with any connection with the Bible growing up, then this story is probably familiar to you. I remember hearing about it Sunday School and seeing it in a Picture Bible. It’s definitely one of the more famous stories about Jesus, and it’s easy to see why. Here are a few things to note:
1) This is the only miracle (outside the Resurrection) which is recorded in all four Gospels. Apparently the writers considered it pretty important, since John usually records material which is unique to himself.
2) According to Michael Card, the earliest recorded Christian artwork represented this story in drawings. Not the crucifixion: That would come later as generations could look at the Passion with some detachment. No, the earliest artwork which we have preserved is that which depicts Jesus feeding the 5,000. They felt that the Cross was too momentous to adequately capture in human art, so they took this miracle as symbolic of what he did for us on
3) Of course, we say “the 5,000,” but it was probably more than double that. As commonly done in that time, John didn’t count the women and children in this crowd. Once you factor those in, this becomes even more amazing.
4) The Bible is very realistic when it comes to human nature. The crowd came out, not to gain spiritual direction but to see more miracles. They'd heard about his healings, so they wanted to see more of it, like people going the circus to be thrilled and entertained. Nevertheless, Jesus condescended to their needs and provided for them in the most compassionate way.
Then after he fed them, what was their reaction? Believe in him, or at least open their hearts to the possibilities? No. They wanted to seize him and force him to use his miraculous powers to become king and overthrow the hated Romans. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Jesus refuses to be used for earthly political purposes. He did so back then, and he does today. He'll return to be crowned King, but it's going to be on his terms, not ours. He's not the property of any political party or politician. So let’s be careful of that, shall we?
5) And of course there’s the obvious application: He's perfectly able and willing to take care of my needs. I can trust him. If I do what he tells me to do, I can let him worry about my physical and spiritual needs. He who fed millions in the wilderness for forty years on manna, who fed Elijah via ravens, and who fed over 10,000 with a boy’s sack lunch can deal with my problems. Right?
Lord Jesus, please help me to trust you. If I ever have tried to use your name for my own purposes, please forgive me.