“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

This is from John 6:1-15, the story of Jesus feeding the thousands from five loaves and two fish.

Jesus and His disciples are in the countryside across from the Sea of Galilee preaching and performing signs on the sick, when He asks them how they are going to feed everyone. The disciples balk at the idea, knowing how few resources they have for such a huge crowd. But Jesus is testing them, for He already knows what He’s going to do.

“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”

Jesus blessed the loaves and distributed them along with the fish to the five thousand assembled, and when they had eaten their fill, He instructed the disciples to gather the leftover fragments. There was enough to fill 12 baskets.

Interestingly, this miracle is foreshadowed in 2 Kings 4:42-44, when the prophet Elisha feeds 100 from 20 loaves of bread and fresh corn: “For thus says the LORD,‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’”

This is, of course, a story of Jesus performing a miracle. He feeds five thousand with but a few loaves of bread and two fish! It’s also a story of Jesus testing the faith of his disciples, proposing that they feed so many with so few resources. If they but trust Him, He will provide, as He does.

But isn’t this also a story about “us”? Jesus continually challenges us to look out for the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled, and the marginalized of society. Many of us answer the call individually, but when our society as a whole is asked to respond, we are told we don’t have the resources — let the churches handle it; let individuals do it. We keep hearing how Jesus fundamentally changed the world, making it more humane and loving, yet when it comes to many of His core messages, this “changed” society ignores His calls to action. Let the other guy do it.

Our churches and “the other guy” are overburdened as it is.

“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Jesus asks. Perhaps through a miracle in Jesus’ name: in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone in our society. Then instead of feeding five thousand Jesus can feed five million and many more.




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