“And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them…” (Mk. 6:41)
It is no accident that Mark gives us these particular details about Jesus’ miracle. Mark presents this miraculous feeding with Eucharistic details. Taking, blessing, breaking and distributing are the same basic actions that Jesus would later do when He established the Eucharist at the Last Supper. This proto-Eucharist is meant to shed light on the real thing. I would like to point out only two things: First, notice that Jesus’ original command to the disciples is fulfilled. He said, “You give them something to eat.” And then we see that that is exactly what happens! This meal is a miraculous meal, but it is perhaps miraculous in a way we do not expect. It is miraculous in that it performs and allows us to perform what God requires of us toward one another. God requires us to love our neighbor. And then inviting us here and sitting us down, He walks us through the steps of loving our neighbors: eating at a meal together, recognizing one another as people whom God has redeemed and worthy of honor and respect because of God’s image in them. And so this meal sends us out into the world to do the same. “You give them something to eat.” Secondly, Jesus commanded the people to sit down in groups, ranks it says, in hundreds and fifties. This is an army. And if the point was not explicit enough, Mark treats this multitude as an army, recording for us the number of men in attendance, the same basic formula that Numbers uses to tell us how many fighting men were available in each tribe. And therefore, we are to consider this a meal of war, and this is our war camp. We are gathered here to be fed by our Shepherd, our King seated at the head of the table, equipping us and sending us out for battle. But even more than that, Paul says that as often as we do this, we proclaim or preach the Lord’s death until He comes. This meal is a battle cry. It is the declaration of the one death that has become the life of the world.