August 3, 2014

The Rest of the Story

Today’s Gospel reading was the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13–21). As I listened to the reading in church this morning, I imagined a following incident that was not recorded by the evangelist. Below is the story from Matthew, including my imagined epilogue.
Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

After the crowd had eaten, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “The people have no way to relieve themselves. Send them away, so they can relieve themselves at home.” But Jesus said to them, “Have the people walk to the nearby grove, and they will be satisfied.” When the people did as they were told, behold, they found many small dwellings with doors, each with a seat and pot inside. And the people relieved themselves and returned to hear Jesus teach until it was nearly sunset. And Jesus dismissed the crowd with a blessing, and the people went home, amazed at what they had seen and heard.

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