Feeding 5000

When Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”

They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

And He said, “Bring them here to Me.”

Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21)

Were the five thousand that Jesus fed late one afternoon, as the sun set and twilight came, better people than those whom he hadn’t provided such a meal for? Those who received a miracle from him, were simply those who had come to him. When someone came, Jesus never drove them off without providing for their needs. He healed the sick, he cast out demons, he raised the dead.

Five thousand were fed that evening. It was a miracle, a “free lunch.” But when those people woke up from their slumber the next day, what did they have? Their bellies were empty once again. Those that Jesus healed, sooner or later got ill from something else. Eventually, they all died. Those he raised from the dead eventually ended up in a cemetery. We can’t travel to Israel and have tea with Lazarus.

Why did Jesus perform miracles that lasted such a short time—satisfying hunger for a few hours, or relieving pain and death for a few years? What was the point since none of that lasted.

Relieving someone’s suffering, easing a burden, wiping a tear, binding a wound, offering a drink, giving a gift—certainly none of those things last for long. But yet, each momentary blessing is still a blessing. Even a momentary improvement is still an improvement. If you’ve helped today, you’ve helped.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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