The Miracle of the Change of Plans
Our Gospel reading for this Sunday is Mark 6:30-44. This story is often called “The feeding of the five thousand.” or sometimes, “Jesus multiplying the loaves and fish.” I’ve never heard it referred to as “The miracle of the change of plans.” That is a part we miss. We always focus on the headline. Jesus fed how many people? With exactly how many loaves and how many fish? We forget the context.
Jesus was trying to take the twelve disciples and go off to a remote place so that he could de-brief and rest and regroup after they went off to villages two by two preaching the Gospel. Imagine how wonderful this could have been for the disciples! To reflect and learn and share with Jesus without the distraction of the crowds! So, they set out in a boat. And the people ran on foot. The people won the race.
Now if it had been me I would have been a little ticked off. I’m not happy when I have a plan in place and people go and mess up my plans. If I have it in my head that things are going to happen a certain way, I struggle with anger and disappointment when the plan suddenly changes.
Not Jesus. He saw the crowds that he had just tried to escape, and he had compassion on them. The same crowds that had them so busy they could not eat, Jesus chose to feed them. He saw them as a sheep with no shepherd.
Shepherds do a lot of things, but one of the main things is to make sure the sheep have grass to eat, and plenty of it. No wonder Mark notes the crowds sat down on the “green” grass. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God. He can feed ten million with one loaf if he wanted, the numbers don’t matter a whole lot. But his compassion on the crowd is what truly matters. He doesn’t walk away, he doesn’t rebuke, he teaches, again and again, patiently, and he feeds his flock.