Mark 6:41-44 (NIV)
41 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. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
On the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee is a small church called the Church of the Multiplication. Its altar is built on top of the rock where tradition holds that Jesus blessed the bread and fishes and proceeded to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. A real place for a real event! Following are couple observations that came to mind as I re-read the miracle story and Devries’ Day 19 chapter.
First, of all his miracles, this one physically impacted the most people in Jesus’ time and place. I wonder … did those that gathered to hear Jesus speak that day realize what was happening? Certainly, the disciples were aware of the miracle, but what about “the 5,000”? Did they know that Jesus started the multiplication with only a small amount of fish and bread? Were they too far away from the action or maybe it was getting too dark? Did they even care about how it happened or were they simply happy to get some food to eat after a long day? My human inclination is to believe that everyone knew … to get the most positive impact possible for the ministry. However, given that Jesus downplayed some of his other miracles; he may have made no special effort to “advertise” what was happened that day.
Who showed the greatest faith in this miracle story? The disciples certainly didn’t. They were fully prepared to send (actually, they wanted Jesus to deliver the news) the crowd away to find food on their own. Devries’ applauds the child-like faith of the young boy to give up his own dinner for the simple reason that Jesus asked for it. The young boy may not have realized what Jesus was about to do with his gift, but he gave willingly. The boy’s sacrificial gift, to give his last to the Lord, is reminiscent of the widow’s sacrifice for Elijah and in the New Testament, the poor widow’s gift of two small coins to the temple treasury.
While in these examples they were generous even in their own personal scarcity. Should we not be generous back to the Lord in our abundance? We can be confident that the Lord can and will multiply the impact of our small gifts many times over.
Blessings, John H