Miracle? Act of Re-creation? Or both? If we extended this a few verses we would see the story of the feeding of the 5,000 is surrounded by Jesus’ attempts to be alone with His disciples. We also see in this passage the disciples who begin by telling Jesus all they had done and taught and then their inability to perceive the needs of the crowd. Success and failure on the disciples part.
Something that seems more apparent in the original Greek version of the New Testament is the repetition of words and allusions in this story that seem to echo Moses and the Exodus. Whereas King Herod and the religious leaders have failed to be shepherds to the people, Jesus has compassion on the people. Moreover, there is a repeated departing or going away and yet a coming together throughout the story. Jesus, with the disciples, departs for a deserted place. Later the people are gathered together to be fed by Jesus. Jesus fed the multitude with scarce resources. Following the feeding there is collected from the remnants 12 baskets much like there were 12 tribes of Israel. Too often the focus of the passage is how Jesus did this miracle or the nature of miracles instead of the larger story that Jesus is presented like Moses and His ministry like a new Exodus event, but even greater. Jesus’ act of feeding the 5,000 is an act of re-creation of the people of God.
Though Jesus desired a time of retreat, it was cut short. How do the disciples respond (v. 36) compared with how Jesus responds? Why the difference? How do you respond to interruptions?
How does Jesus’ compassion lead to His response? What does that say about Kingdom living?
How do the allusions of Moses and the Exodus illumine this story of the feeding of the 5,000? What does that say about Jesus? The Kingdom of God?
How is this miracle an act of recreation? Where do you find hope in this story? Where are you challenged?