“Ruth! Ruth! Come quickly! We need to be on our way,” cried my husband, Elias, as he burst into our home.
“Elias! Where are we going?” I asked as I stood up from my weaving.
“I have heard that Jesus the Nazarene is on a boat headed this way. If we hurry, we may be able to see and hear Him. Come quickly now so we can be on our way,” he responded as we gathered our things together to leave.
As a Jewish woman, it is our custom to cover our heads when we leave our home, so I put on my head wrap before leaving.
Elias and I have heard talk of Jesus of Nazareth. It has been said that He has healing power and that those who were blind now see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. We have heard that lepers have been healed as well. Who could this man be and how does He do these things? We have also heard that He is a teacher and explains the writings of Moses and the prophets.
We stepped out of our home to see others who were also heading away from the village as we all hurried toward where we had heard Jesus was heading. It is springtime and the sky is blue with clouds floating lazily above us. The wind is gently blowing off the water as we walk quickly along.
As we walk I hear others talking about Jesus and speculating on what we may hear this day, and if we will be fortunate enough to get close to Him and to see Him and perhaps feel His touch. Some who are with us are being led by others. Ahead of me I spot someone moving slowly with crutches as he makes his way forward. I gaze into his eyes and wish him a good day as we pass by. Some are moving along quickly, nearly at a run, as they are anxious to see Jesus. Others who are ill are moving more slowly yet determined to catch a glimpse of this man and perhaps to feel His healing touch on their infirmed bodies.
Elias and I have heard talk of Jesus as we have gathered in the synagogue for worship. We can scarcely believe the stories that we have heard about Him. Who is his man? From where did He receive His power and authority?
The dust rises from the ground as the crowd makes its way to where it has been said the boat is headed. This may be our only opportunity to see and hear Jesus, so we continue our trek to our destination. I am thankful that Elias has brought the wineskin with him so that we are able to drink as we go.
As we approach our destination we see that the boat is being hauled to shore by some men. Jesus is climbing from the boat and enters the shallow water as He makes His way to the shoreline. His smile shows warmth and tenderness as he greets those waiting on the shore. There is an occasional laugh from Him as the children scamper around in the water. The others from the boat come alongside Him.
“Master, perhaps we can go this way. I see a place where You can sit and those who have joined us will be able to hear and see You,” said one of those who is with Him.
As they make their way toward the location indicated, those of us who have arrived quickly go to find a place to sit. I am fortunate to find a group of women and children who are close to where He sits as Elias joins a group of men in the same area.
As I wait for others to be seated, I wonder what I may see and hear this day. I see behind and beside Jesus are those who were with Him in the boat. They talk among themselves as they bring some water to Jesus. One of them stops and shades his eyes as he looks out over the crowd that is gathering.
The breeze from the Sea of Galilee cools the gathering as the sun glints off the water. There are many people who have come to hear Jesus and they continue to find places on the hillside to sit and stand so that they may hear Him. Word of Him has spread throughout the area and I am not surprised to see how many have come to see for themselves the One who teaches and heals.
Jesus stands and raises His hands to get the attention of the gathering. It takes a few moments, but the crowd stills so that He can be heard. He greets us with a warmth in His voice as He begins to speak. Only the sound of His voice and waves lapping at the shore can be heard as we raptly listen as He teaches.
He speaks to us and teaches from the words of Moses and the prophets. His words make the teachings come alive and give an insight that I have not heard before. Jesus continues to teach and eventually sits on a stump that is behind Him.
As Jesus continues speaking I cannot believe how much time has passed as the sun has moved overhead throughout the day. There were times during His teaching when those who were ill came before Him asking to be healed. I saw Him touch the eyes of the blind and they walked away with their eyes lifted toward Heaven and rejoicing. Those who could not hear received the gentle touch of His hands to their ears as He smiled upon them. They lifted their hands to heaven in praise as they walked away. Oh, and those who were crippled also received His touch. Their crutches were thrown to the side as they began to dance joyfully as Jesus smiled and laughed with them. It was an amazing sight to behold, and I was blessed to be close enough to see the miracles that were performed before me.
I see Jesus turn to speak with one of His disciples. The man raises his hands as though to say, “I don’t know what I can do.” I see the disciples begin to walk into the crowd, and a little boy gives one of them some items. The disciples go back to Jesus and give Him what the child has offered.
The disciples then turn to us and ask everyone to sit down in groups of 50. After we were all seated, Jesus took what was given to Him, and I heard Him offer thanks for the bread and then for the fish. “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”
After this He began breaking the bread and handing it to the disciples, who placed it in baskets and began to hand out the food. As the basket came to me, I saw that it was filled, and I took as much bread and fish that I could eat and passed the basket to the next person. This continued and everyone was eating from the offering that was made.
There are many here today and the food continues to be sent out among the people. I look around me and see that everyone is eating and laughing as they enjoy this unexpected feast. After a time, I see that the disciples begin moving through the crowd with baskets to gather up what is left over. As they move through the throng I can see leftover bread and fish being placed in the baskets. The baskets are taken back behind Jesus, and I see that there are 12 baskets that are filled with these leftovers. How can this be? There was only a small amount to begin with, but everyone has eaten their fill yet there is food remaining.
The sun is slowly starting to move toward the horizon as Jesus continues to teach and heal. There are some who begin to say, “Surely, He is the Prophet we have been expecting!” and start to move toward Him. As they begin to move toward Jesus, I see Him turn and slip into the hills by himself while His disciples remain behind.
Elias is coming toward me now so that we can start toward our home before nightfall. Our return home is much slower than when we started out as we are talking and exclaiming about all that we have seen and heard this day. I hear the chatter of those around us who are also discussing the events of the day. Ahead of us is the man that I saw earlier walking with crutches. He is now healed and is dancing in the road with his friends and rejoicing with them.
This has been an eventful day and as we approach our home, I give thanks to our God that I was blessed to be able to participate and to hear and see Jesus.
Insight: The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is the only one that is recorded in all four of the gospels. The story can be read in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-15 and I encourage you to read of this miracle for yourself. The Bible does not tell us the prayer that Jesus offered for the bread and fish, and the prayer that is used here is a common Jewish thanksgiving prayer that Jesus may have used. Synagogues were located in towns that had 10 or more families.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the daily food that you provide for me. I also give you thanks for the food of Your Word that is available to me. May You open my spiritual eyes to see the miracles and wonders around me and that Your Word may come alive to me as I read it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.