The Parish Churches of Ranworth with Panxworth,
South Walsham, Upton and Woodbastwick

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The feeding miracle: the feeding of the five thousand

Here we see another of the ‘signs’ of glory from John’s gospel (John 6.1-15). Like the water into wine, it shows a party although this time the gathering is outdoors. The feeding miracle is the most reported story about Jesus in the gospels and here we see the moment when Jesus takes the bread and gives thanks before it is shared with the gathered multitude. The head of the young lad offering his packed lunch to Jesus is just on the left of the picture. The crowds behind are looking hopeful and expectant as a disciple bows his head meekly ready to distribute the five loaves and two small fishes among such a huge hungry crowd. The feeding miracle recalls the banquet that God will share at the end of time. The gathering is more than a picnic: If you read John carefully, you will find that the outcome of this sign is that the crowd want to take Jesus by force and make him their King.

Stained glass of the feeding miracle

Jesus withdraws. He refuses to comply with the politics that seek to overcome Roman rule by force. Force will be used to take him later when his hour has come. Then his kingship will be revealed non-violently as he is nailed to the throne of the cross and crowned with thorns. By such an attitude, Jesus turns the world upside down. This image shows a Jesus touched by humility ready to feed not only this crowd, but every believer with this the heavenly food of his own body and blood.