Have you ever been in a long serving line at a buffet? Even when we have fellowship time and we line up to have our turn at the refreshment table, it can take a while. Imagine how long it must have taken to feed 5,000 men plus the women and children!
And there were only 12 on the wait staff! Depending on the number of women and children, that is somewhere between 400 to 1,000 people for each disciple.
OK, trying to work out the details isn’t really helpful here. What becomes clear, however, is that everyone had to become involved for this feeling to make place. Jesus gave to the disciples, the disciples gave to the crowd, the crowd passed the food around.
This is not a picture of the kind of service providing that keeps everyone dependent on one provider. At least, that was not Jesus’ intent as the Gospel of John makes clear in the version of this miracle recorded there. Yes, Jesus (representing God in the story) broke the loaves and fishes after he blessed it, but other multiplying is implied in the story as well.
In the age of modernism, central planning for greater efficiency was a great virtue. All activities were funneled into one place. One agency became responsible for all things related to defense or finances or education and so on. Mass production that required everything needed to be the same. We have begun to see that in many areas of life too much dependency on any one thing is not good. Multiple sources, multiple means, and multiple avenues of supply are better. So are multiple styles of worship, multiple spiritual paradigms and multiple friends. Rather than narrowing down dependency to one exclusive path or person, we would be better served serving each other.
Politically we are talking about sacrifice to make ends meet. Can we not talk about shared service as well? Loaves and fishes everywhere!