This week’s scripture finds Jesus at a difficult time in his life. His cousin and mentor, John, has been executed by King Herod. He takes a boat and slips away for some quiet time away from the crowds. However, before he can even get to his hide-away, the crowds find him. The result of this encounter with Jesus is the only miracle described in all four gospels: The Feeding of the 5000.
13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."
16Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
17"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.
18"Bring them here to me," he said. 19And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
• Why do you think this event was so important and memorable that it was the only miracle story shared by all four gospel writers?
• How would you have felt if you slipped away to grive the death (murder actually!) of a loved one only to be followed by crowds wanting something from you?
• The gospel writers all tell the story a bit differently. We often think of this story as the story of the boy with two fish and five loaves, but Matthew doesn’t mention the boy instead he focuses on the disciples.
o Why were the disciples concerned about the lack of food?
o What was their suggestion to fix the problem?
o What was Jesus’ response?
o What does this mean for Jesus’ disciples today?
• Meals are very important in the life of Jesus. There are several important contrasts between this meal and others mentioned in Matthew.
o Compare this event with Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1-4)
o Compare this meal with the Herod’s Banquet (Matthew 14:1-12)
o Compare this meal with Jesus’ last supper with his disciples (Matthew 26:26-30)
• As we prepare to celebrate Holy Communion this Sunday, what does this passage say to us about eating with Jesus?
Just some questions to help us prepare for worship this Sunday.
Picture thanks to Hugo