Miracles? That is not really the key to this passage. We all know Jesus did miracles…
Here, he went off to be alone, but when he came to shore in that remote (secluded, solitary) place he saw a great crowd. Miracle number one is he did not get ticked! Instead, he had compassion on the crowd. (I would have rolled my eyes and sighed deeply at least).
He healed the sick (miracle number 2). What can we say here?
He spoke to them, all 5,000 men plus women and children, and without a microphone! (Do you have any idea how big a crowd 5,000 plus is)? Miracle number 3.
Then he fed them all (with leftovers that Peter’s mom could put in her fridge), and all with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Wow! Miracle number four.
But wait, if all we see is the miracles, we miss the point.
As I explained recently, when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and follow him, he was not giving an instruction for us (unless we happen to be rich young rulers). But when he says something to the disciples and instructs his disciples in some way, that IS to be taken as instructions for us. After all, we are the disciples now.
Here, the disciples try to be practical. (How many good things have been ruined by people being practical)? This is the remote place you wanted, they say, so send the people to the villages so they can get something to eat.
No, Jesus said. You give them something to eat. You…that means you and me. We are the disciples now.
The thing is, when we are standing there looking dumbly at our few loaves and fishes, wondering what earthly good so little can be in meeting so great a need, we need to remember what God can do. With God all things are possible. Jesus still does miracles.
Recently, I was reminded again of Mother Theresa who simply walked out one day and helped the first person she met in whatever small way she could. We see how that ended up.
You and I may not have much at all. Our churches may be having trouble just paying the bills. We all want to do great things, but when we look around, especially in the pews, we see how little we have to work with. I recognize how little I have to work with every time I look in the mirror. But so?
Jesus said we are not to send them away. He said we are to feed them. Okay. We take what we have. We do what we can, and though it may seem to us to be so little, a futile, impractical gesture, an impossible expectation, you know what? We need to do what we can, anyway. We need to give whatever we have because that is when miracles happen.