Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
This story about the loaves and the fishes and the five thousand people who sat together to eat them is the only miracle story that appears in all four synoptic gospels:
Reading one gospel after another, it’s difficult to see much difference at all; the accounts are remarkably similar. If four different writers have included the story about Jesus providing food for the crowd that gathered around him, we can assume that the story had significance for the early Christian community.
That account of a happening on a grassy hillside may have touched on many levels – not simply a miracle story but a story about one who could offer the comfort of food, one who could bring people together, one who could take a hungry, sweaty, agitated, and disorganized crowd and turn it into a scene of peace and abundance.
Every person got all that he needed, all got as much as they wanted. That anyone could do that is a kind of miracle. It’s one that we long for today when we are so at odds with each other.
(Reflection by Diane Ingram. Source: Pilgrimage United Church of Christ)