This account, the feeding of the five thousand, remains unique in that it is included in all four gospels. Among the four, the Gospel of John has Jesus both giving thanks for the food and distributing the food to the five thousand (vs. 11). Consider, here, the profligate abundance: Not only did the people eat “as much as they wanted” (vs. 11), but when all had eaten their fill, the leftovers exceeded the initial amount—twelve baskets full vs. the initial five loaves and two fish (vs. 13). Note this: the leftovers were not cast aside but carefully gathered up so “that nothing may be lost” (vs. 12). The Lord may provide in abundance… The Lord may even be profligate in that abundance… but the Lord does not leave things to waste. The Lord wants nothing lost (vs. 12).
Neither does the Lord want you to be lost. You may consider your life to be an afterthought… a leftover… something fit only for the waste bin. Your Lord, however, thinks differently. Your Lord, having poured out his salvation, his grace, his life abundantly even profligately upon the world, ensures against the loss of any… against any person going to waste… by sending out his helpers to gather them up. In the Lord’s calculus, everyone is worthy of being gathered in even those labeled leftovers. The Lord sends his preachers to do this gathering.
The abundance of the Lord’s profligate bestowal of benefits exemplified by this important account of the feeding of five thousand, also exemplifies the selfish misuse by the people of their Lord’s abundance. The people will use force upon their Lord, coercing him to be their king (vs. 15), and demanding a perpetual comfort from the Lord’s abundance. Right here, this text from God’s Word delivers the Law—afflict the comfortable—and proclaims the Gospel—comfort the afflicted. Those who would use force and coercion are afflicted while those who would be leftovers, fit only for the waste bin, are comforted.
Table Talk: Discuss the importance of hearing Scripture as Law and Gospel.
Pray: Heavenly Father place your word in my ears as Law and Gospel. Amen
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs
that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat? 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many? 10 Jesus said, Have the people sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then 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. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost. 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.