Jesus feeds the five thousand (Mark 6: 30–44)

Like the calming of the storm, it is believed that the feeding of the five thousand was also based on an eyewitness account due to the level of detail.

Jesus and the disciples are on their way to “a quiet place” to get some rest, but they were followed on foot by a large crowd.

We see Jesus’ compassion for people. He is hungry and tired, but still he takes time to teach the people because they were like “sheep without a shepherd”.

Jesus sends the disciples away to find food nearby, they return with two fish and five loaves. Jesus’ words and actions are important as they are symbolic and will be repeated again at the Last Supper.

Jesus gives thanks for the food, raises it to Heaven, blesses it and gives it to the disciples to give out.

Everyone eats and there is enough left over to fill twelve baskets.

This miracle shows Jesus’ power over nature. It also recalls two miracles from the Jewish scriptures:

An illustration of Jesus feeding the five thousand, published 1890
  1. God miraculously fed Moses and the Hebrews with manna in the wilderness.
  2. The prophet Elisha fed 100 men with 20 loaves of bread.

Jesus is seen as fulfilling the two foundations of Jewish religion - the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elisha).

The miracle shows Jesus as the Messiah.

It was believed that the end of the Messiah’s reign would be marked with a great banquet. Modern readers will also be able to make connections with the words and actions of Jesus at the Last Supper.

Some people think that this miracle didn’t take place exactly as Mark recorded it. Jews, because of their strict dietary laws, would have brought their own food with them. It has therefore been suggested that the miracle was that the Jewish people shared their food with one another, following Jesus’ example.