Time to bring out a point easily missed in the narrative of the feeding of the five thousand. Here’s the text of Luke 9:12-14 in the NLT:

Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there.

Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.”

Here’s the detail: The disciples wanted to send away the multitude to fend for themselves, because even the Twelve had not brought provisions. It was late in the day. They were thinking of their own stomachs. We are hungry, they thought, and until we get rid of this crowd, we can’t see to our needs. The five loaves and two fish were not theirs. They lacked all provisions.

Jesus knows what they’re thinking, how they’re thinking, with their stomachs. He wants them to know that he’s in charge, not because he feels threatened in his authority, but because only when he’s in charge can he care for everyone.

“You feed them!” he charges. Then, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” Jesus doesn’t deal directly with the crowd, but through the disciples.

“I’m going to take care of you. And you’re going to take care of them,” Jesus seems to be saying.

This feeding is between the sending of the Twelve at the beginning of chapter 9 and the sending of the 72 at the start of chapter 10. In this feeding shines the principle that the Lord works through his people to bless others.

And more, the Lord takes care of his people when they are taking care of others. The feeding is surrounded by two preaching narratives, in both of which are the instructions not to take money or supplies (Luke 9:3-4; 10:4).

Moral of the story: don’t worry, be busy about the task for which the Lord sends you, and he will provide.

For he is indeed Lord in charge of the harvest.

Boy, do I need that just now.

4 thoughts on “Only five loaves and two fish

  1. Randal, an astute observer, you are! Most people wouldn’t see any of this in Jesus’ interaction with his disciples, but you did.

    This is exactly what true “meditation” (Psalm 1:1-2) will do for an individual in studying the Scriptures. Truly digging into the “meat” of the text, is the only way to acquire true understanding of the Scriptures. Surface study won’t cut it! (which is all that many members of the church want to do).

    Great job of interpretation, my brother!

What do you think?