2 KING 4:42-44 EPHESIANS 4:1-6 MARK 6:1-15
“Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.” This is the simple introduction to the extraordinary event that’s about to unfold. In the bible, the mountain is the place where heaven intersects with earth. Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the commandments from God. Jesus went up a mountain to deliver the new commandments, the beatitudes. Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration atop Mount Tabor. Now, on this mountain, the disciples will experience a moment in the kingdom of God.
Jesus looked out at the large crowd. He not only saw the people, he saw their inner longings – their hungers. He turned to his inner circle of apostles with a challenging question. “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” No one had any answer to the question except a boy who had five barley loaves and two fish. He offered them to feed the crowd. Was this naiveté or faith? Let’s think about this boy for a moment.
It was common practice for people to carry food with them when they traveled. They usually carried it in a sack they slung over their shoulder. This boy was carrying five barley loaves, the bread that the poor would ordinarily eat, and two fish. Although he was poor, he gave away all the food that he had. John, the gospel writer, wanted to make clear that this was a kingdom event, and that this boy, by giving away all that he had, was opening the door to the kingdom. The boy’s example was a reminder for the disciples that unless they became like little child, they would not experience the kingdom of God.
Jesus had the crowd recline on the “great deal of grass in that place.” This detail is referencing the “green pastures” of Psalm 23 where God sets a table, anoints the guests with oil and pours wine until their cups overflow. The people were told to recline on the grass as they were obliged to recline during the Passover Seder. Reclining, as opposed to sitting in a chair, was a sign of wealth and freedom. Jesus was readying the people for the fulfillment of the Passover that would be realized in the banquet in the kingdom of God.
Jesus said the blessing and distributed the five barley loaves and two fish to the crowd of five thousand. Everyone ate. Everyone was filled. Twelve baskets of food were left over. If five loaves and two fish could feed five thousand, how many more thousands could be fed from the twelve baskets of leftovers?!
This miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish is repeated each time we gather for the Lord’s Supper. At the Eucharist we celebrate God spreads a banquet table before us. We’re not fed with earthly food, however; we’re fed with the Bread of Life, the bread of the kingdom.
So, come to the Eucharist with the spirit of a little child. Offer to God everything you have, your five loaves and two fish. Let the Lord feed your inner hunger. Let the Lord free your spirit. Permit your soul to rest. Recline on the green grass of the kingdom of God.