Matthew 14:13-21


Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves." Jesus said to them, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." They replied, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me." Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


In one sense this is a "bridge passage," linking Jesus's reaction to the death of John the Baptist with the feeding of 5,000 people in the wilderness. I think, however, that it has a great significance in its own right.  

It is in the wake of John the Baptist's death that Jesus comes fully into his own mortal ministry. And as he does so, he immediately makes it clear that he is not laying claim to a spiritual power unique to him. His closest disciples might see him "cure the sick," but Jesus knows—and we can see from the perspective of 2,000 years—that what truly cures the sick is their faith in the possibility of a cure. As he says to the woman with an issue of blood (Mark 5:34), "Your faith has made you well."

And then, as if to emphasize the point, Jesus turns the perception of lack back onto his disciples. He could easily have allowed divine abundance and sustenance to express through him, but he is not interested in claiming unique powers for himself. Instead, he throws the situation back upon the disciples who have come to him for a solution to the perceived problem. "You give them something to eat," he challenges them, and then proceeds to demonstrate the process of manifestation that is the essence of his Truth and his message.

Even today there is a great tendency to take our mortal problems to Jesus in the expectation/hope that he will solve them for us. And even today his message remains the same: Do it yourself!


Rev. Ed