This coming Sunday at Resurrection our Gospel reading will be Mark 6, Jesus’ feeding of the 5000. It is a familiar story that is in all four gospels. On several occasions when food was running low at a church event, people would approach me as pastor to duplicate Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes. I have failed every time to perform some magic trick. However, I never remember anyone going away hungry. Usually we “s-t-r-e—t – c—h” out the food to feed whomever is needy.
Like many stories in scripture this is open to various interpretations as to how it impacts our lives. I don’t believe the story has only one meaning to it, that once the reader discovers it, the story is finished. Rather the story rubs up against my life, challenging, enlightening, guiding my life.
A primary interpretation is that Jesus is like Moses in the Exodus, providing manna in the wilderness for the people of God. In fact Jesus is God himself, since he did not need to consult God about the people’ need, but simply blessed, broke and gave the bread to the people, a foreshadowing of his “blessing, broke and gave” sequence at the Passover meal (Mark 14:22). Jesus is the one who feeds us. John 6 is a lengthy teaching on Jesus as the bread of life.
But I think a second interpretation is the calling of the disciples to feed the people.
Jesus said to them, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:26)
Jesus gave the loaves to the disciples that they might feed the people. As followers of Jesus we are called to be people who feed others, literally. The church has often been an agency that works to feed the hungry. Whether it is the hungry in the horn of Africa or local hunger of our city streets, we are still called by God to feed the hungry around us. God has blessed us that we might give to others in Jesus’ name.
Lord Jesus, teach me how to feed the hungry in your name.