Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.  The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.  (Mark 6:30-43)

If the idea of Jesus feeding 5,000 people isn’t impressive enough, consider this:

In ancient times, it was the custom to only count MEN in official records.  Archaeologically speaking, if women and children had been included in this total, the number of people that Jesus fed would’ve been closer to TWENTY-FIVE thousand.

Imagine for a moment Jesus feeding those same five loaves and two fish to a capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York (with an overflow crowd of five thousand people lined up out the door and around the block)!

It’s trendy nowadays to discount Jesus’s miracles.  Many scholars today seek to argue, “The people there simply shared their lunches with their neighbors next to them.”

Let’s return to the passage for a moment.  Consider Mark 6:33 (“But many who saw [Jesus and the disciples] leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them”).

Imagine the scene:  on impulse, the crowd dropped everything, stopped whatever it was that they were doing, and ran to meet Jesus.  Those five thousand people (or twenty-five thousand, depending upon which interpretation you follow) wouldn’t have had TIME to prepare a lunch!  (This pretty much shoots the whole “sharing” notion right out of the water.)

Consider Mark 6:35 (“It was late in the day”).  The people who were gathered around Jesus probably hadn’t counted on staying with him for so long.  The disciples had probably only brought enough food — five loaves and two fish — to feed themselves and Jesus, their teacher and Lord.  One must also consider that had the people in the crowd brought enough food to feed themselves, the disciples would not have felt the need to tell them to ‘go and buy something to eat’ (Mark 6:36).

Given the circumstances, what else BUT a miracle could explain Jesus’s ability to feed five thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fish (leaving twelve basketfuls of bread and fish to spare)?

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