One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the feeding of the 5,000. Other than the resurrection, it is the only miracle to appear in all four Gospels. It is obviously a significant event in the story of Jesus. In John, it appears to be the final straw between Jesus and the Jews, and in Mark it marks a geographical shift in the ministry of Jesus. Needless to say, this story obviously has more to it than just a simple children’s story to be told in Sunday school.
I like to look at this story from the different perspectives of the people in it. For example, look at the perspective of the disciples. They had just returned from one last sweep of the Galilean region. They were healing the sick, doing all kinds of miracles, and teaching in all the villages of the region. Now they are tired and Jesus leads them to a place to rest. When they arrive the people were already there. They heard that Jesus and his disciples were coming so they rushed to the other side of the sea of Galilee to make sure they could see Jesus and the disciples. The disciples were not pleased about this, and when the day was long they wanted to send to people away. It seems that they saw these crowds as a nuisance getting in the way of their much needed vacation.
More than that, think about the disciples perspective of Jesus. They have been with him and seen Him do all sorts of miracles. They should know who He is, but they miss it. When it comes time to feed them, they start taking about money and the lack of resources. Do they not know that this is the same Jesus that changed the water into wine? They are totally ignorant of the fact that they walk daily with the Lord of all creation. I wonder if the 12 leftover baskets or even the circumstances of this event as a whole are there to make a point to the 12 rather than the crowd.
Now look from the perspective of the crowd. John’s account gives insight to the fact that the crowd seems to want the food more than the one providing it. At the end they try to make Jesus king by force, and Jesus goes into the great discourse where He declares, “I am the bread of life.” Once again the crowd misses the point. They definitely cannot sing the song “I’d rather have Jesus” with any integrity.
Jesus however has the perspective that we are to embrace. Jesus, like the disciples, is very tired. John the Baptist has just been killed, Jesus was thrown out of Nazareth by his own people, and the emotional weight of constantly dealing with people has started to take its toll on Him. This however is all forgotten when Jesus lands on the beach and sees the great crowd. He was moved by compassion for them, despite his own circumstance, because they were “like sheep without a shepherd.” He knew well that they only wanted the miracles and they only wanted the blessings, but He still loved them. He spent the entire day ministering to them, with the great conclusion being this mass feeding. This story, as much as any other, gives great insight to the character of our Lord.
I need to adjust my perspective of those around me. I need to see the needs of people, and see opportunities to minister to them even when things in my life are difficult. This is the call of every Christian. We must open our eyes to see the poor, the hurting, and the outcasted! The song, “People Need The Lord” must be ever on our hearts.
I also need to adjust my perspective of Jesus. He is the one who was crucified in the place of sinners and the one who triumphantly rose from the dead. Who am I to question His ability to see me through to the end when little problems come up in my life? I must always remember that Jesus is Lord!