Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,…
As the day was drawing to a close,
the Twelve approached him and said,
“Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms
and find lodging and provisions;
for we are in a deserted place here.”
He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”
They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have,
unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”
Now the men there numbered about five thousand.
Then he said to his disciples,
“Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.”
They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets.
“Dismiss the crowd so that they can…find lodging and provisions…”
As always, the disciples are thinking so practically, so pragmatically. They realize that Christ is, indeed, worth following, worth listening to, and, quite possibly, the Messiah; but people have to eat. It is one thing to listen to good teaching, even teaching from THE Messiah, but, as my Baptist youth minister friend says, “The brain can only handle as much as the rear can.” If it was me in that setting, and it has been many times, I’d be thinking, “Alright. Good teaching. Great sermon. I’m hungry.” The disciples seem like the sort of people I’d get along with. When I’m tired and hungry, I, too, would be willing to walk up to the Son of God, interrupt, and…um… “strongly suggest” that we adjourn for a while and get some Arby’s, or at least a McDouble from the dollar menu (we disciples are a cheap lot).
“Give them some food yourselves”
He’s not clueless. He knows they don’t have any food, right? Just in case, let’s tally it up and give him the rundown. “Okay, here’s the deal, Jesus. 5 loaves, 2 fish. You pick the 5 people that’ll feed. No, Peter, you can’t have it.” On a complete side note, I have always loved that, though there were 5,000 men present and 12 disciples of the Messiah, the ONLY person to have thought to bring extra food was a little boy. I’d say he’s a prime biblical proof of the existence of an ancient clan of the Boy Scouts of America.
It is at this point that I see a scene in my head. It’s speculation, I know. But I see it go down this way: a staredown for like thirty seconds, as Jesus thinks about how exactly to get his point across in the best way, the disciples think about finding a knife sharp enough to cut the 5 and 2 into 5,000 pieces, and Peter thinks about how good the it will all taste when he sneaks off with it in like 35 seconds.
a sandal shuffles………… someone coughs……………..
Peter quietly sidles towards the Fishloavesnack© ……..
blink ………………………………. and then ………………….
“….have them sit down…”
I personally like that His first step is to get them all comfy. Don’t leave them shifting and sweating; get ‘em in a receptive, relaxed situation.
“Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broken them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.”
I see him wink at Peter as He steps between the man and his “precious”. But, then, all the joking is set aside. Christ is about to cut through the hunger, the wilderness, the confusion, the ambiguity as to what’s going on. There, before their eyes, a minimum of 5,013 people watched as a boy’s lunch became their feast. In a moment, the small became great. Through Christ, aching hunger is satiated.
We don’t get the scientific narrative of how things multiplied. We don’t get to know if baskets and hands simply began overflowing. We don’t read how the atoms and electrons and quarks of each loaf and fish replicated. What we DO see, un-arguably, is that normal matter (Fishloavesnack©) is played upon by a force greater than itself.
We are witnessing Christ saying, “I am not daunted by your empty bellies and thin faith. I am not here to feed only your mortal flesh. What I am doing here, I do to prepare you for what happens in just a few verses. When I explain the Bread of Heaven, though you are confused, you WILL remember what I can and have done with normal bread.”
So often, it is easy for us (me) to doubt that the Eucharist is what the Church says it is. We (I) have trouble believing that the silver dollar-sized wafer and the mild wine are, in actuality, transubstantiated. The “source and summit” can all-too-often look stale and simple. But the entire history of the Christian Church beckons us (me) to trust otherwise. The gospel of Luke exhorts us to set aside what measly resources we have and trust our Savior. His Word urges us to remember the heights and depths of the supernatural that He’s already accomplished by His suffering, death, and resurrection. Our Lord calmly asks us, right now, wherever we are, to sit down, taste, and see that the Lord is good.