One day, Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in a boat to Bethsaida. After hearing about John the Baptist’s death, Jesus wanted to be alone for some time in order to pray for the deceased’s soul.
But people followed Jesus on foot from the towns. They knew that He performed great miracles. When Jesus came to a halt, a large crowd greeted Him on the shore. Jesus welcomed everyone and led them to a deserted place on the side of a hill.
Jesus spoke to the people about the kingdom of God. He also healed those who needed healing. But, more and more people kept coming. It was late in the afternoon and was past lunchtime. There was no food available, as it was alonely place.
The disciples told Jesus, “This is a deserted place and it is getting very late. There are more than five thousand people here. Please send them away. They could get something to eat and find some place to stay in the nearby villages.”
Jesus said, “They need not go away. You will give them something to eat.” He turned to His disciple Philip, “We must feed these people.” Unaware that it was a test, Philip exclaimed, “It is impossible! So much food will cost us a fortune!”
Another disciple, Andrew, suggested, “We could buy the basket that boy is carrying. It has some loaves of bread and fish, though it may not be enough.” Pleased, Jesus ordered Andrew to get the basket.
The basket had five loaves of bread and two fishes. The little boy trusted Jesus. He didn’t know why Jesus wanted his lunch basket or what He would do with it. But he gave it to Him anyway.
There were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Jesus instructed the disciples to make
the people sit in groups of fifty each. After the people were seated, Jesus took the five loaves of bread and the two fishes. He prayed over them.
Then Jesus broke the loaves and the fish, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. Each person ate all he wanted. Yet, the loaves and the fish were not used up! Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather up the leftovers so that nothing may be wasted.”
The disciples filled up baskets with the pieces of the loaves that were left over by the people. Amazingly, after everyone had eaten, there were still twelve baskets full of leftovers! That day, Jesus fed over five thousand people with a little boy’s lunch.
Another time, Jesus fed over four thousand people with seven loaves and a few fish. The people had been with Him for three days. They had followed Him and listened to His teachings.
Jesus told His disciples, “I have compassion for these people, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry; they might faint on the way. Some of them have come from distant places.”
The worried disciples asked, “Where are we to get enough bread in this desert in order to feed so many people?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves of bread do you have?” They said, “Seven.”
Ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, Jesus took the seven loaves of bread and prayed over them. Then He broke them and gave them to the disciples. The disciples gave them to the crowd.
The disciples had a few small fish too. Jesus blessed the fish and got them distributed as well. Everyone ate and the leftovers filled seven baskets this time! Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children.
When the people saw this miracle of feeding thousands, they wanted to make Jesus their King! They said, “Jesus is truly a prophet who has come into the world to help us.” They knew Jesus was the Saviour whose coming was promised in God’s Holy Word.