We all need food daily, but preserving the food left over after a meal not everyone loves to do. Some prefer to have excellent quality food fresh cooked daily, and cooked in large quantities; others appreciate having the left-over food 'recycled'. Many people who live in third world countries are longing to have a full stomach before their bed time. In Jesus' time, the Roman rulers and their elite enjoyed the extravagant lifestyle, while the majority of common people experienced the lack of food supplies. During the day workers laboured long hours in harsh conditions, and received insufficient nutrition for the heavy day's work. At night they lived in the slum areas, and that made many of them sick, and many died before their prime. The crowd came to listen to Jesus because they enjoyed the heavenly food Jesus had to offer, but not all of them had the same intention, as Jesus pointed out,
'You are not looking for me because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat Jn 6,27.
Jesus talked to the crowd about God's everlasting love, the heavenly food. That was His mission. Apart from meeting the crowd's spiritual needs, Jesus showed compassion towards them by healing their sicknesses. The apostles for the very first time show, that they have learnt from Jesus, to have compassion for others. They had observed the crowd during the day, and knew that almost none of them carried any food, except one little boy who had five loaves and two fish. This highlights that the poor came to listen to Jesus. They probably were so poor that they had no extra food to 'BYO' for the day. They certainly lived in poverty, but possibly they weren't poor spiritually. They probably were familiar with the message people used to console one another in times of need that,
'Yahweh will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines... He will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death forever. The Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from every cheek; he will take away his people's shame everywhere on earth' Is. 25: 6-8
The apostles probably had pondered about the food question: where to find food for these people in such an isolated place? Towards the end of the day, they approached Jesus asking Him to disperse the crowds, so they could get food for their physical nourishment. Jesus knew what he was going to do, but he threw the suggestion back to the apostles, saying you feed them yourselves. They were now in further trouble. The parable made it very clear, that ultimately God was providing for both our spiritual and physical needs. The human elements play their parts in petitioning, preparing the crowds, distributing the food and collecting the food left over. The apostles collected twelve baskets of food left on the ground. Don't waste food is a message for us all to learn. There are children worldwide who go to bed hungry daily because their parents can't earn enough for food to feed them, and yet there are people who use good food to throw at each other, food fights and food eating competitions.
Let us learn from Jesus, giving thanks to God before each meal and consuming food with a thankful heart.