Miracles are the common currency of heaven. The feeding of the five thousand was just a little loose change spilling from a hole in the pocket. It is the only miracle recorded by all four Gospels. Of the four, only John gives the interpretation.
All day long Jesus had given himself to the crowd, one by one unloading the burdens from their tired backs. It is late in the day now, and the Savior is hungry and bone-weary from the endless press of the crowd. He tries to get a little rest by slipping away up the hillside with his disciples, but the crowd grants him no reprieve. Nevertheless, John tells us that Jesus felt compassion on the people. They seemed to him like sheep without a shepherd. Without someone to lead them into the serene landscape of faith with its green pastures and still waters. Without someone to guide them down the right paths or walk with them through life’s dark valleys. The disciples suggest that Jesus send the people away so they can go to the villages and find food. But Jesus is too good of a shepherd to do that. When he sees the flock making its way up the hill, foraging for a few tender mercies, Jesus seizes the moment to test Philip’s faith. “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” The disciple puts a sharp pencil to the problem and is quick to calculate the cost. He concludes that the expenditure is beyond their budget. He puts his pencil down. “Impossible. Can’t be done.”
We all have our own list of impossibilities: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip… You can’t change a leopard’s spots. Impossibilities? Not to the Word who was in the beginning with God, flinging galaxies into orbit. Not to the Word
who was God, coming down from heaven to become flesh and dwell among us.
For Jesus knit the leadership of his church out of the coarse threads of fishermen and tax collectors…he got wine from ordinary tap water…and he changed a man, covered with leprous spots, and made him clean. Andrew goes to a little more trouble to search for a solution. He doesn’t look at what can’t be done but at the little that can be done. In doing so, he finds a poor boy with five flat loaves of coarsely ground barley bread and a couple of fish in a wicker basket. “But how far will they go among so many?” What Philip and Andrew don’t see is that impossible situations are not solved by how much we have in our purses or in our baskets. Not by how adequate our bank account or how abundant our assets. Impossibilities are solved by Miracles—pennies from heaven. And Jesus had a pocketful. That is where the disciples were to go to get bread. Jesus turns to the boy. He doesn’t have much. And what he has isn’t the best. It’s the food of the poor; Bread made from barley, not wheat; salted-down sardines, not lamb chops. But what he has is enough. For the surrender of a child and the compassion of a Savior are all that’s needed for this miracle.
It is an incredible moment, and plans to make Jesus king spread through the crowd. But just as the Savior refused the crown offered to him by Satan in the wilderness, so he refuses the one offered now. For Jesus knows that the way to the throne is not over the red carpet of his tempter or on the shoulders of his supporters. The way to the throne is the path charted by his father, up the stony path that led to Calvary.
It would be there that the bread of life would be broken…so that a world hungering for forgiveness could take and eat.
(Moments with the Savior, pp. 169-170)