Jesus takes the food offered by the small boy and holds it up high. He prays, “Father, we thank You for this generous boy and the food he has brought. We thank You for providing this food for him, and now for us, that all who have gathered here to receive Me may be taken care of. Please, Father, bless this food and multiply it so that it will nourish and sustain us all. Amen.” With this blessing, Jesus begins the distribution. He breaks a loaf of the coarse barley bread, considered by most to be a poor substitution for wheat bread and worth only a third of the price, and suddenly the people in the front of the crowd sit up straighter. That aroma – that’s not barley bread, that’s fresh baked wheat. What is happening? Jesus passes half of the loaf to the boy with a wink and a smile, and the boy takes it in astonishment. Soon, Jesus has filled several baskets with this miraculously transformed bread, and the boy and the apostles begin to distribute the food to the people. Jesus does the same with the fish, and it is transformed from dried salt fish to moist, flavorful, fresh filets. The people – all 5,000 men plus many more women and children – eat their fill, some even getting second and third helpings. Jesus says to His apostles, “Go and gather from the people all that is left over, so that nothing is wasted.” They do as He asks, and collect 12 baskets full of leftovers. The people are in awe of what Jesus has just done. Murmurs of “Messiah!” begin to be heard among the crowd. Peter glances again at the distant hills and sees the Romans, still watching. He can’t make out the expressions on their faces, but he is sure they must be worried. If Jesus can control a crowd this size so easily and provide so much food out of almost nothing, Rome is in trouble if He plans to lead the people in a revolt.
Matthew 14:19b-21, Mark 6:41-44, Luke 9:16-17, John 6:11-15