Bread and fish
Mom, I don’t need to take food!’ the boy complained to his mother. ‘I’ll be late!’
‘You will not be late and I will not have you begging for food!’
‘But that’s enough for lunch and dinner. Just let me take what you have. That will be enough!’
‘Young man, you will wait until I’ve finished making your meal basket! You will not be late!’
The basket was soon completed. As the mother handed it to her son she looked him in the eyes and said, ‘You must be my eyes and ears! Get up close to Jesus, listen to what he says. Watch what happens, listen to the questions, listen to the answers. When you return, you must tell me all that happens!’
‘I will mother, I will!’ The boy took the basket, turned and ran to where people said Jesus would be today.
He followed the flow of people out of the city and down to the sea, then along the shore to Bethsaida. There were thousands of people – families, men and women. Children ran throughout the crowd. People called out to one another. The whole atmosphere was one of excitement and curiosity. As they walked along, some told stories of what they had seen in the past, others asked questions about who Jesus was and what attracted so many people to him. But the little hill where they waited to see Jesus was full of expectation and wonder.
Jesus stood up in the boat he was traveling in. He looked toward the shore and saw the people gathering on a hill just off of the shore. He sighed and directed his disciples to land on the shore near the hill.
Jesus climbed out of the boat and began to walk among the people. As soon as he was recognized, people flocked to him. Many were sick or injured or brought children or friends who were ill. He saw the need on their faces and in their hearts.
He asked the closest child to come to him. As the little girl and her mother approached Jesus, they looked at him with hope and uncertainty. Jesus smiled at them and put his hands on their shoulders. Immediately, the girl was healed and her mother fell to her knees and held the hem of Jesus’ robe. She continued to kneel before Jesus while others came to him and were healed.
After each one had been healed, Jesus and his disciples moved to the top of the hill.
The boy had been standing near Jesus when the people had been healed. He put in his mind the sights and wonders he would tell his mother when he returned home.
He followed Jesus to the top of the hill. As Jesus sat down, the boy turned and looked at all the people that had gathered around. The entire hill was covered with people. They were standing or sitting looking toward Jesus expectantly. Many were showing how Jesus had healed them or a loved one.
Jesus asked his disciples, ‘Where can we buy bread to feed these people? Lunch is coming and they must be fed’.
The disciples looked at all of the people and one said, ‘Even if we had wages for eight months of work we could not even give them each a bite of food!’
The boy immediately thought of the basket in his hand. He had been so lost in wonder that he had forgotten about the food his mother had prepared for him. He tugged on the robe of one of the men that closely followed Jesus. ‘I have some food! Jesus can have it if he is hungry!’
The man, Philip, looked down at the boy and his offering. He rolled his eyes and shook his head as if to dismiss the boy. But the boy persisted in tugging on the other men’s robes. Finally, Andrew turned to Jesus and told him that there was a child that had 5 small loaves of barley and 2 little fish.
Jesus smiled at the boy and beckoned him near. He put his arm around him and told the disciples to organize the people and have them sit down. When this had been done, Jesus took the small offering, blessed it, and told his disciples to distribute the food. The men looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and took the fish and bread and began to give them to the people gathered there, group by group.
The people were amazed as the food did not deplete as each one broke off a piece of fish and bread. As each ate their bite of food, they were filled.
The disciples were also amazed when they collected the remnants as each group was fed. They moved to the next group and looked each other in wonder as they realized that the food did not diminish. When all had been fed, they gathered all of the remaining food and put it in baskets, saving it to hand out at the end of the day when everyone returned to their homes.
With the little boy at his feet, Jesus began to speak. He spoke of love and redemption, of history and the future, of what is gain and what is loss. But mostly, he spoke of Grace.
The people listened intently, some hoping for, well, hope. Others listened with open disbelief. Some scoffed while still others whispered in a close huddle.
With darkness approaching, Jesus dismissed the crowd. As they left, they each took food from the left overs from lunch. The last one to leave was the little boy. He smiled as Jesus patted him on his head. ‘Make sure you stop and gather your food for your trip home.’
The boy stopped at the baskets and reached in. he pulled out 2 small fish and 5 loaves of bread. He saw that it was the same bread and fish he had given Jesus. When he saw that, he looked back at Jesus who smiled kindly back at him. The boy smiled as well, turned and ran home, his mind racing with all of the things he would tell his mother.