Have you ever read a biblical account of some of God’s people and passed judgment on them? I have. I’ve read of the doubting Israelites and thought, After all those miracles, I’m sure I would not have been a grumbler! I was recently challenged to place myself into the New Testament story of Jesus feeding of the 5,000. Here’s how I tell it:
Benji wanted to go hear that new Teacher. Finally, we heard that He and His followers were passing through our area. I told Benji to discover where we could find Him. In the meantime, I pulled together a quick lunch—leftovers from breakfast with a couple fish from my husband’s catch the night before. I wrapped the basket snugly in my carry shawl, and we were off.
We walked a good two hours until we came upon the crowd outside of Bethsaida. There was a spot for us in the grass, but my little boy slowly worked his way to a rock within 20 feet of the Teacher.
Turns out, the rumors were true! Rabbi Jesus could heal with a touch. He spoke of a kingdom that sounded heavenly to me. But the miracle that captured me was my sweet, wiggly little son sitting in rapt attention. His eyes never left the Teacher’s face. Benji laughed at the stories Jesus told and gasped in understanding as the Teacher unfolded their meanings. All the while, he hardly moved. The whirling dreidel, as we called Benji, was still and attentive in a way I had never seen before.
As the sun traveled past midday I thought of our lunch but left it wrapped in my shawl. I wasn’t about to pull Benji away just to eat.
The sun was sinking toward the horizon and Jesus paused, as His closest followers appeared to come to Him with a problem. I watched Benji lean forward. His face lit up, and he jumped like a kid goat through the crowd, down to me in the grass.
“Ima! Ima! Please tell me you didn’t give away our lunch! Please, please, can I give it to Rabbi Jesus? Please? He needs it. I wanna give Him mine. Pleeaase?”
“Benji,” I heard myself say, “what about you? I brought it so you could keep your energy up after your illness. It won’t do you well to miss two meals in one day.”
“Ima! Come on, I’ll be just fine. Pleeaase?”
Against my better judgment, I handed over the basket. I was glad I had used the freshest barley from this year’s harvest. The two fish were roasted to perfection, wrapped in fresh leaves from the tree in our courtyard. It was a simple meal, but filling and tasty for the tired Rabbi. I just wished I had more to share.
The smile I saw on my little boy’s face as his basket of food was handed to Jesus melted my heart. But the smile and a wink that the Master shared with Benji warmed my soul in a way I cannot explain.
Jesus blessed the food and proceeded to break the bread and hand it to His disciples. Benji saw quickly that the five loaves and two fish had been removed from the basket and passed to others. His face fell as he realized the Rabbi would not get any.
However, what happened next is something I cannot explain! I can only tell you I saw it with my own eyes. My fresh barley loaves, the ones I had lovingly formed into the shapes of fish for my fisherman husband and precious little boy, kept coming out of the basket! Jesus gave Benji another grin and a wink as he pulled yet another loaf from the basket. With the next loaf His eyes met mine with such a look of delight, joy, and love that I felt the warmth to my toes.
My barley loaves were feeding the entire multitude! I will never forget the chuckles I heard all around as each follower accepted a fish and a loaf from the disciples.
I will forever remember that Jesus added His special blessing of love not only to my barley loaves and fish, but to my son and me as well. With one day and one basket of food, our lives were changed forever.
And to think, I thought I didn’t have enough to share. But that was before I met the Master.
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