May 16, 2013
That’s the number of men the gospels report Jesus fed with just a few loaves and fishes. (see Matt 14:21 for example) The “+” are the additional women and children who were in attendance. Nobody knows for sure how many people were there, but suffice it to say it was a whole lot!
Think about it. Two of the gospels – Mark and Luke – indicate that Jesus suggested a little order by having them sit in groups of 50. (see Mark 6:40 and Luke 9:14) But other than that small reference, no indication is given as to how the food was distributed to this supersized crowd. Yet, all four gospels tell us that everyone was satisfied and the leftovers were retrieved!
Doesn’t it follow that the same divine authority that provided enough food for all, also provided the means and method for seeing that it reached everyone in a timely and efficient manner? Simply put, the human mind cannot conjure up meals for a multitude from so little, neither can it organize so vast a delivery with so few. And Jesus knew that – which is why he didn’t rely on the human mind to pull it off: he relied on God, to whom all things are possible. (see Matt 19:26 for example)
Isaiah says of God, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (chapter 55, verses 10 and 11)
Jesus knew that about his heavenly Father. And he patiently strove to teach his disciples that stunning fact. Their first response to the needs of the multitude was to suggest they be sent away to fend for themselves. But the Master assured them every detail would be covered. And it was. How?
John’s Gospel says that Jesus gave thanks before having the disciples distribute the eats to the crowd. (John 6:11) That’s a pretty important clue as to why he was so successful: he thanked God before anything happened. He thanked God knowing it would happen. He thanked God knowing that God always provides, always cares for His beloved children. As Mary Baker Eddy puts it, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” (Science and Health 494:10)
That’s important for us to know too. We don’t have to predetermine the unique individual aspects about how God will make it happen, but we do have to agree – and be grateful for – that fact that He will do it. This is not a prayer of wishful thinking! This is the joyful recognition that God’s love is ever active, ever-present, ever providing. Here and now. For me and you and all.
So, whether you’re feeding a multitude or just yourself, start with conscientiously and gratefully knowing that God’s in charge. Then go about your business expecting it to be so.
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.