Lunch Basket Extraordinaire

Matthew 14:13-21; John 6:1-15

The bread was still hot, fresh from the hearth. I had just milled the flour the day before, then prepared dough and baked it early that morning. Soon after, my husband ran into our house instructing us to get dressed and pack a quick lunch, because he had heard that Jesus’ boat was about to land on the lakeshore near our village. I grabbed some of the bread and some dried fish and put them in a basket.

I wasn’t entirely prepared to spend the day listening to a rabbi. And when I realized we had to walk a distance, to a remote mountainside, I was even less enthusiastic. Besides, most religious leaders intimidated me with their superior ways and nitpicking. I wasn’t in the mood to be berated. But, not having any choice, I picked up our lunch and took my son by the hand, dutifully following my husband as we scurried along the shore and up the hillside.

Thousands had gathered in a grassy area. Some were blind, some lame with twisted bodies. There were lepers, beggars, destitute individuals who felt rejected and used. The restless crowd seemed to cry out for healing and mercy. The sights, sounds and smells were overwhelming. I felt uneasy and hid behind my husband, tightly holding onto my son.

But as the day progressed and Jesus walked through the throngs of people, I watched in amazement as he compassionately touched the faces of the ill and healed them. He pulled a restored lame man to his feet and danced in joyful circles with him. He comforted those who mourned, beckoning the weary and heavy-laden to come to him. Desperate people, whose dreams had long since dried up, found fresh hope in his open arms.

A calm finally settled over the multitude; then the healer began to teach us, breathing new life into our hearts and minds. The day went by in a flash. As evening approached, Jesus realized the people were hungry and word quickly spread that food was needed. Our basket still contained five loaves and two fish. We had been standing close by, so I gave the basket to my son and gently pushed him toward Jesus and his disciples. The disciple Andrew expressed doubts whether this meager food offering would be of any help. But when my little boy presented the basket to Jesus, he bent down and with a huge grin told him this was exactly what he needed. My son ran back to us, proud as he could be.

Jesus looked up toward heaven, gave thanks and began to break the bread and divide the fish, giving portions to his disciples. They then divided those pieces and passed them down the rows of people. The supply never ran out. And there were even leftovers! I returned home on a high, regretting my earlier reluctance to come. Jesus turned my homemade barley loaves and two small fish into an unforgettable feast that fed and satisfied thousands!

By Joyce Catherwood

Copyright 2008

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