The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. –Mark 6:30-44
This is a miracle story familiar to many. Jesus and the disciples are with a crowd, and a need is identified. The people need food. The disciples point this out to Jesus, who astonishes them with his response: “You give it to them.” Their reaction seems entirely reasonable: “What? How?!” They gather what they do have and bring it to Jesus, who multiplies it to meet the need and then some. Do you see this story anywhere in your own life?
There is a parallel between this story and doing ministry–this miracle of multiplication is repeated over and over in our lives. We encounter people with a need. As followers of Christ, we are charged with ministering to that need. But oh, how insufficient we often feel! How often do we cry, “Lord, I don’t have enough to give them! I’m not enough!” God, though the power of his Holy Spirit, takes the measure of gifts and talents he has given us and multiplies them to be sufficient to minister to others.
The miracle in this passage and the miracle of multiplication in our lives point to Jesus as the one who did the multiplying, the one with the power, the one who is God. In the midst of the disciples’ and our insufficiency, Jesus is the one who is enough. Jesus is the star of the story, not us; therefore, his power is magnified in our weakness.