HEN the twelve disciples came back to Jesus, after preaching in his name among the villages of Galilee, they told him of all that they had done, and of what they had said to the people. The multitudes seeking after Jesus were now greater than ever before, for it was again near the time of the Passover, and very many on their way to Jerusalem turned aside to see and to hear the great Teacher. So many people were coming and going that they could scarcely find time even to eat. Jesus said to the twelve:
"Come with me apart into a quiet place, away from the crowds, and let us rest for a time."
They went into the boat and rowed across the lake to an open place, where no one lived, not far from the city of Bethsaida. But they could not be alone, for the people saw them going, and watched them from the shore, and went on foot around the northern end of the lake, and found them. When Jesus saw how eager the crowds were to hear him, he took pity on them and taught them, and healed such among them as were sick.
As it began to grow toward evening, the disciples said to Jesus, "This is a lonely place, and there is nothing here for such a crowd of people to eat. Send them away before it is too late, and tell them to go to the towns and get food."
But Jesus said to them, "They need not go away. You can give them food to eat."
They said to him, "Shall we go into the town and buy two hundred shillings' worth of bread, so that each one of them may have a little?"
Jesus turned to Philip, one of his disciples, and said to him, "Philip, where shall we find bread, that all these may eat?"
Jesus said this to try Philip's faith, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip looked at the great crowd, full five thousand men, besides women and children, and he said, "Two hundred shillings' worth of bread would not be enough to give to every one even a little piece."
Just then another of the disciples, Andrew, the brother of Peter, said to Jesus, "There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two little fishes; but what use would they be among so many people?"
Jesus said to the disciples, "Go out among the people, and divide them into companies of fifty and a hundred, and tell them to sit down in order."
So the people all sat down; and upon the green grass, arranged in rows and squares in their garments of different colors, they looked like beds of flowers.
Then Jesus took into his hands the five loaves and the two fishes which the boy had brought. He looked up to heaven, and blessed the food; and broke the loaves and the dried fishes, and gave the pieces to the disciples. They went among the companies of people, and gave to everyone bread and fish, as much as each needed. So they all ate, and had enough.
Jesus blesses the food
Then Jesus said, "Gather up the pieces of food that are left, so that nothing may be lost."
Each of the disciples carried a basket among the people, and when they came to Jesus all the twelve baskets were filled with pieces that were left over of the five loaves and the two fishes.
When the people saw that here was one who could give them food, they were ready at once to make Jesus their king, and to break away from the rule of the Romans. Jesus was a King, but he would not be such a king as they wished. His kingdom was to be in the hearts of men who loved him, not a kingdom set up by the swords of soldiers. He found that his disciples were ready to help the people to make him a king, even against his own will.
So Jesus first compelled his disciples to go on board the boat, though they were not willing to do so, and to row across the lake to Capernaum. Then he sent away the great crowd of people who were still eager that he should be their king. And when all had gone away, and he was left alone, he went up into the mountain to pray. While he was praying in the night a great storm arose upon the lake, and from the mountain Jesus could see his disciples working hard with their oars against the waves, although they could not see him. A little after midnight, when the storm was the highest, Jesus went to his disciples, walking upon the water, just as though the sea was dry land. The men in the boat saw a strange figure coming near them upon the sea, and cried out with fear, for they thought that it must be a spirit. But Jesus called out to them, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid!" And then they knew that it was their Lord.
"Be of good cheer, it is I"
Peter spoke to Jesus, and said, "Lord, if it be thou, let me come to thee, walking upon the water." And Jesus said to Peter, "Come."
Then Simon Peter leaped overboard from the ship, and he, too, walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw how great was the storm on the sea, he began to be afraid, and forgetting to trust in the word of Jesus, he began to sink. He cried out, "Lord, save me!"
And Jesus reached out his hand, and caught hold of him, and lifted him up, saying, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt my word?"
When Jesus came on board the boat with Peter, at once the wind ceased and the sea was calm. The disciples wondered greatly as they saw the power of Jesus. They fell down before him, and said, "In truth thou art the Son of God!" When they came to the shore, and the daylight arose, they saw that they were at the land of Gennesaret, a plain a little to the south of Capernaum. They went ashore; and as soon as the people saw Jesus, and knew who he was, they brought their sick to him, and begged that they might only touch the border of his garment; and as many as touched him were made well.
Soon after this Jesus came again to Capernaum, and went into the synagogue, which was full of people, some of whom had eaten of the five loaves a few days before. These people wished Jesus to feed them in the same way again, but Jesus said to them, "Seek not for food that passes away, but for the food that gives everlasting life, such as the Son of man can give you."
They said to him, "What sign can you show that God has sent you? Moses gave our fathers bread from heaven, the manna in the desert. What can you do?"
You have read of the manna which fed the Israelites in the wilderness in Story 24. Then Jesus said to them, "It was not Moses, but God, who gave your fathers bread; and God gives you now the true bread from heaven, in his Son who came down from heaven, to give life to the world."
As soon as the people found that Jesus would not work wonders to please them, they turned away from him and left him, although only a few days before they would have made him a king. When Jesus saw that the great crowds of people were with him no longer, Jesus said to his twelve disciples, "Will you also go away and leave me?"
Then Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom else can we go? for thou only hast the words that will give us everlasting life."