Jesus feeds the multitudes

Hear the word:  Luke 9:10-17 or John 6:1-14

Background:  A version of this story is in all four gospels.  The gospel-writers each  understood Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes as a central image of Jesus’ ministry.  Take some time to imagine why this miracle is so central to the varied stories of who Jesus is.  Consider the gifts that were offered.  Consider the multitudes that were invited to share in the feast.

I’ve copied below a few lines from Sam Wells’ reflections on the Eucharist, because they fit well with reflection on the feeding of the 5,000:

What begins to take shape at the offertory is a reshaping of human society and a reassembly of the whole creation.  The reshaping of society is constituted by the way each member of the creation offers different things to the table, but each in due course receives back the same thing from the table.  Members of the congregation differ in the amount of money they can and do contribute to the alms and oblations…They differ in their kinds of work and service..They differ in the kind of food they are used to eating…They differ in their gift of faith, their degree of understanding, their level of commitment.  They differ in their social location…All these things differ, but as each stands before the altar, they join a great tradition of those who have offered God something — and in that something have offered everything they have…This is a reordering of society in which members of the congregation offer all that they uniquely are, and thereby learn to receive back what everyone can have.  As they offer to God everything he has given them, God gives them everything they need to follow him.”

From Samuel Wells, God’s Companions:  Reimagining Christian Ethics.  (Malden, MA:  Blackwell, 2006) 192 -193.


(1.)  Children will re-tell the story of the feeding of the 5,000.

(2.)  Children will reflect on the gifts the boy brought to Jesus, and the gifts that Jesus offered the crowds.  Older children will compare this story with our Eucharistic Liturgy.


(1.)  Listen:  Listen to Folk Psalm’s “Jesus Feeds 5,000”  (Preview it here.)  If you’d like to play this on Sunday, you can borrow my laptop and play it directly from there.  Talk about how the lyrics of the song reflect the story.

(2.)  Imagine the scene by reflection on some of the following questions:

How do you imagine the disciples were feeling?  (Tired from their travels, perhaps they wanted to be alone with Jesus…)

Why did the crowds continue to follow Jesus?

How might those fish and bread have tasted to the crowds?

(3.)  Compare various images of this story.  How do these images differ?  How are they similar?

Make your own depiction of the story

Christ Feeds the multitude

Feeding of the 5,000

Jacopo Bassano

Multiplication of the Loaves

John Reilly

John August Swanson

(4.)  Giving Thanks – Before the disciples saw the loaves multiplied, they gave thanks for the few loaves they had.  How might they have prayed to give thanks?

How can we pray to give thanks for the gifts that God gives us (even, perhaps, when they seem small)?

See Book of Common Prayer 810 – 813 for a list of prayers and thanksgivings.  Invite pairs of children to pick a ‘thanksgiving,’ and to copy it down, or to “make it their own” in some way.

(5.)  Play a game – a relay game.

(6.)  Feed others – Your class is welcome to take time to chop and compile ingredients for a few breakfast casseroles to be donated to St. Joseph’s Breakfast Fellowship.  If you’d like to do this, let me know and I can have materials and a recipe available for you.  In doing this, we’re taking an offering (donations of eggs and veggies) and asking God to bless it, to use it to nourish others in God’s kingdom.

(7.)  Gifts we bring Jesus:  Younger classes may want to make this craft, or something similar.  Then discuss: the boy shared his lunch, and Jesus blessed his gift and used it to give those gathered everything they needed.  What gifts do we bring to Jesus?

Conclude with prayer and thanksgiving.


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