“And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.” —Matthew 14:20
The feeding of the 5,000 has to be in the top 5 miracles performed by Jesus during his earthly ministry. As I was rereading the verses today, what stood out to me was the placement of this story in Matthew’s Gospel. The account begins with Jesus hearing that his cousin John the Baptist has been killed by Herod. After hearing this terrible news, Jesus gets in a boat and heads off because he wants to be alone. Unfortunately for Jesus what seems to happen regularly happens again, and people get wind of where he’s headed and follow after him. Jesus’ time for solitude is put on hold as he begins healing the crowd and will go on to perform this amazing miracle.
As someone who cherishes the opportunity for solitude, I can’t help but feel convicted by Jesus’ response to this interruption. Rather than being irritated by it, he looks at those in the crowd and has compassion on them. We don’t read anything in the text that makes us think he’s doing it begrudgingly. Jesus isn’t making a show out of it so people recognize that he’s doing them a favor. He just begins to heal and tops it off with the astounding miracle of feeding the crowd with what little his disciples bring to him.
Jesus steps out of the boat and starts healing because he’s looking at the crowd through his Father’s eyes. His first priority each day is nurturing that relationship. By doing that, Jesus can weather the interruption and use it to bring glory to his heavenly Father. Today, let’s do the same and look with hopeful anticipation at the inevitable interruptions that await.