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.
And so everyone was fed.
Is that the end of the story? Did all the people go home and say to their friends “you won’t believe what Jesus did, He fed us all lunch! He fed us all lunch using just two loaves of bread and five fish that a little boy had brought!” Or did they go home and search for a deeper meaning in what had happened to them? Was the miracle ‘food for a day’ or was their encounter with Jesus ‘food for life’?
Jesus had been teaching the people all day. We do not know what He was teaching them about. What we know is that He felt compassion for them. We might only guess He was telling them something about the circumstances of their current lives; of God seeing them as they are but wanting to offer them so much more. He may have told them of the God who loved them so much that He had come to them, to walk with them and to show them what His love looked like in the very lives that they were living. He might have told them how He was trying to show them the way to live their lives for a greater fullness and deeper relationship with the God who so deeply loved them. We read a little earlier that He felt like they were “sheep without a shepherd and He began to teach them many things.” He wanted to guide and protect them, provide for them and heal their wounds. He wanted to take them to “greener pastures,” ways of life filled with true joy.
I can only imagine that Jesus has compassion on us as we live in this time of Holy Week in a way in which we have never experienced it before. I believe, right now, He is trying to “teach us many things.” Some of us feel very lost, some of us want to go back, to the way things were, but we don’t know if there is a way back, and we don’t know what the way forward will look like either. Some of us are frightened. Some of us are tired and confused while from fighting this disease on the “front lines.” Some of us are battling our own ‘front lines’ of grief, pain, despair. Some of us need greater hope for tomorrow. We are like the people who are sitting on a hill and don’t know what to do. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He is doing something. It doesn’t logically make sense, but He has shown His power before, and He is doing so again. Look, things are multiplying! People are being fed, we are being fed! And there is plenty, there is more than plenty! We are satisfied, we are filled. We have received from Him!
Is this a miracle we are seeing? Yes, but there is more. Jesus is changing us. We are in this time and experiencing so many things we have never seen before. Consider what He says. Hold what He says with what you see. He has given Himself on the cross for you and I. He has gone from Heaven to earth and back to Heaven to prepare a place for you and I. He is shaping us each to live with Him forever. What you and I are going through is more than a “single experience.” Look deeper, question, ponder and ask Him to teach you, show you, reveal to you all that you need to receive from Him transform you through this time. Thank Him for it. Thank Him for allowing us to be worthy of His shepherd like care for each one of His individual sheep. Thank Him that He is providing for today and shaping us for tomorrow. Don’t just eat the meal of a moment but take it all in and be transformed by Jesus forever!