Mark 6:30- 44 NIV – The Feeding of 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.
In my opinion, the Feeding of the Five Thousand was one of Jesus more notable miracles due to the sheer quantity of food that was multiplied. If you think about it, the magnitude is impressive– the equivalent of one or two peoples’ meal managed to feed five thousand men, and if historical records are accurate this means he actually fed more than ten-thousand when counting the women and children present. While impressive all its own, the magnitude was not what caught my attention when I recently reviewed this miracle. No, what grabbed me was the practicality.
If you read in verse 37 the disciple basically said “That’s really expensive — are you sure you want us to spend that much?” You see, Jesus was loaded. He got tons of offerings from people and had really rich women who supported him AND the disciples. All of their needs were met. People treated them to lunch, gave them places to stay, and overall Jesus lived quite well. Even his clothing that they gambled for at the crucifixion was high-level production. As best as I can tell, and from the statement the disciples made, they actually had enough money to buy bread for everyone there. At no point did Jesus say “Man, we really don’t have the cash.” He easily could have said “Yes, go take Judas and buy wagonfuls of food.” Face it — Jesus had tons of options. Jesus could have multiplied money instead of the food, and sent them with enough money to buy everything. But that would have been silly and a ton of work. He could have let them starve too, but that wasn’t his way of doing things, even though fasting for a day wouldn’t have killed anyone. Remember when he turned water to wine at the wedding in Cana? That wine would have been expensive if he had bought it all, based on both the quantity and quality that he made, but that was an issue he completely evaded as well. No, Jesus chose the most practical option when he multiplied the food.
Jesus is just as practical now as he was then. There are teachings floating around that state miracles are to prove God to the unbeliever. That miracles are only for spiritual purposes to draw people closer to God. That miracles are given to confirm the good news of Christ when it is preached. I disagree. They can and do accomplish those things but those are by no means limitations we should place on them.
The miraculous is that it is designed to solve real-life problems. Supernatural manifestations can be tons of fun, but more often than not they have a practical component to them as well. Miracles are meant to change reality. They infect us with Heaven’s solutions and Heaven’s thought patterns. We would be wise to learn from Jesus’ example and engage Heaven for practical miracles.