A person has some loaves of bread. A teacher says to hand them out to a crowd. A follower says that there is now way there will be enough food for everyone. The teacher says to pass out the bread. Everyone is fed. There are leftovers.
That’s a story that sound familiar to many people. They start to fill in details. Weren’t there fish, too? Was the follower Andrew? Weren’t there about 15,000 people? Wasn’t the teacher Jesus?
That is one story with bread and a crowd. It’s in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But I was telling a story without fish. With only 100 people. It’s a short story featuring Elisha in the role of the teacher.
There are twenty loaves and one hundred people. The loaves are brought as an offering. When Elisha says to serve the bread, his servant argues. “It will never feed them.”
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’”
And there was.
The people who saw Jesus feed the huge crowd knew this wasn’t original They would have remembered this little story. After all, Elisha was a famous prophet. His stories dotted the history of the kings. But they never would have thought of Jesus as a copycat, performing covers of famous miracles recorded by others.
Quite to contrary. Jesus took one fourth of the amount of bread and and made it feed 100 times as many people. That would have been stunning. a bigger miracle than Elisha’s.
It’s possible that the people watching would have thought that Jesus deserved to be more than a prophet. Maybe he deserved to be a king. Which is what the people said.
The feeding of the crowd wasn’t a novelty. It was part of a much bigger story.