In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.’ 4His disciples replied, ‘How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?’ 5He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven.’ 6Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.*
Do you get the sense that perhaps Jesus is testing the disciples here? Do they remember what happened the last time a great crowd gathered and needed to be fed? It seems they don’t. Jesus says he feels for the crowd – if he sends them away hungry they will faint on the way home as many have come a great distance. But the disciples reply, “How can we feed them?” Do they remember nothing?? Jesus asks them to check their supplies – they have forgotten – Jesus makes what we have enough. This time they have seven loaves, and Jesus tells them to have the people sit down, and he breaks the bread and has them pass it out – and a few small fish as well. All the people ate, and were filled – satisfied is the word used in other translations. People in the first century rarely ate their fill – even in Palestine, which grew food for the Roman army, much of the food they grew went to the army; some was shipped to Rome for sale. To eat until one was satisfied was an unusual event – the people would remember. And after everyone was satisfied, they took up seven baskets of the broken pieces that were left over. This time there were about four thousand, fewer than the previous feeding, but still a huge crowd!
And then Jesus sent the crowd away and he and the disciples got into the boat and went to another region.
Jesus works wonders in our lives all the time – but like the disciples, we forget. When the next crisis, or opportunity, comes up, we look to our own resources instead of to Jesus, and think we do not have enough. But there is always enough with Christ!