During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied.
He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.
The people ate and were satisfied.
Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand men were present.
And having sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
- The abundance of Jesus is complete, meaning he can’t give us more than he’s already given. The loaves and fish only mirror the greater, spiritual gifts he gives. In scripture, twelve and seven and numbers of completeness. Perfection. Twelve tribes equal the fullness of God’s people. Seven days in a week equals the fullness of God’s work and salvation. Have we accused him of holding back?
- Jesus satisfied the basic physical need of the crowd. He met them in their humanity, validating that how God the Father had created them–with physical needs–was good. The need to eat is not a result of the Fall. Not having enough food is. But with Jesus there is more than enough. Have we sought satisfaction from sources other than Jesus?
- Sometimes we feel like the bread and fish collected and stored away in baskets. We’ve missed out on the ministry. We’ve been passed over. But hear this: the left over is not useless. It is testimony. It is witness to God’s abundance. And more so, the fish and loaves were not discarded. Jesus doesn’t waste. They were set aside for later. For the journey home. Not being used in the moment is not the same as not being used at all. Are we so focused playing a specific role in God’s kingdom that we have mistaken being left over for being left behind?
- In the scriptures, Jesus sets himself in front of us. He reveals himself and asks, “Do you still not understand?” We will give account someday for who we say he is. Let us not follow in the steps of the religious leaders who fancied religion over relationship. They had no need for a Messiah. Let us instead have ears to hear and eyes to see that we not only have need of a Messiah, but in Jesus, we have been given (abundantly, satisfingly) that Messiah. Do we get it?