Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Devotional Thoughts Based on Luke 9:10-17

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Feeding the Five Thousand: Dilemma for the Disciples

by Rev. Fr. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil

Next Sunday is the 5th Sunday after Pentecost. The gospel reading is from Luke 9:10-17.

Topic: "Feeding the Five Thousand: Dilemma for the Disciples"

Scripture: (Luke 9:10-17) Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

"10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethesda, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here."

13 He replied, "You give them something to eat."

They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." 14 (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." 15 The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful's of broken pieces that were left over."


Jesus had made it clear that following him would involve a radical change in one's perspective. The life of a disciple is different from that of the world or what the world would expect for a Christian.

Last week we read that the disciples were sent out to preach in their public ministry alone. They reported back that they had successfully preached, conducted healing, and even cast out demons. (Luke 9:1)

Today we will examine the same chapter for the disciple's new experience in the process of learning what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The text reveals a new situation the disciples had to deal with.

A large crowd followed Jesus. As the day ended, the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowds home for there was no food to feed them all and getting food was a problem for the followers. But Jesus instructed them to feed the crowd. The disciples answered, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish." Jesus had the disciples seat the crowd, blessed the five loaves and two fish until all the assembled were fed. They all ate and were filled. Twelve baskets of left over were taken up by the disciples.

This incident teaches a new perspective of the power of Jesus that the disciples probably didn't recognize at the time. For them, it was a deserted place and no food was available to feed them all. It seemed to be a reasonable request based on their compassion for the crowd. It also seemed a reasonable resolution for them.

Jesus' response probably shocked the disciples when he said, "Give them something to eat", meaning it was their responsibility to give them food. The disciples through their association with Jesus knew that they can accomplish things they could never dream of. The disciples had witnessed Jesus perform many miracles, but had no expectation that he would meet their current need. It probably is like us who remain dull to the power of Jesus, no matter how many times he may have met out needs along the way. When Jesus said, "You give them something to eat," it was an impossible task for the disciples. They had neither the food nor the money to buy food. The message is clear. We will never be adequate to meet all our needs. When we think we are great, that we can do our deeds without our Lord's input, it's then that we set ourselves for failure. In the hands of Jesus, if the five loaves and two fish can be a banquet for the multitude of people, his resources will help us more than adequately to meet our needs as well.

The incident teaches us that God does not demand from us what we cannot supply, but only wants us to be his disciples through whom he can work miracles. As Christians, we should seek to get help from our Lord to help others.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost

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