The Last Supper, the model for our Communion service, is linked to when Jesus fed the multitudes. This event happened twice.
Here, he feeds over 5,000 people, using five loaves and two fish. There were twelve baskets of leftovers. The story starts just after Jesus has heard that his cousin John the Baptist has been murdered.
13 When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns. 14 As He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd, felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.
15 When evening came, the disciples approached Him and said, “This place is a wilderness, and it is already late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 “They don’t need to go away,” Jesus told them. “You give them something to eat.”
17 “But we only have five loaves and two fish here,” they said to Him.
18 “Bring them here to Me,” He said. 19 Then He commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets full of leftover pieces! 21 Now those who ate were about 5,000 men, besides women and children.
Shortly after that, he feeds over four thousand people, using seven loaves and a few small fish. There were seven baskets left over.
Matthew 15: 29-39
29 Moving on from there, Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee. He went up on a mountain and sat there, 30 and large crowds came to Him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, those unable to speak, and many others. They put them at His feet, and He healed them. 31 So the crowd was amazed when they saw those unable to speak talking, the deformed restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they gave glory to the God of Israel.
32 Now Jesus summoned His disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with Me three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry; otherwise they might collapse on the way.”
33 The disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in this desolate place to fill such a crowd?”
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked them.
“Seven,” they said, “and a few small fish.”
35 After commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 He took the seven loaves and the fish, and He gave thanks, broke them, and kept on giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 They all ate and were filled. Then they collected the leftover pieces—seven large baskets full. 38 Now those who ate were 4,000 men, besides women and children. 39 After dismissing the crowds, He got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
What are the common elements in this story? Jesus takes what he has, little though it is. He doesn’t pray for more. He gives thanks for what he has and blesses it. Then he breaks it and distributes it.
This is what happens to us when we become part of the Body of Christ, and what we are supposed to do. It is something we receive and something we are to give.
We aren’t enough for the task. We are small and weak. We are broken. Yet God loves us, and is thankful for us. We are blessed by Jesus. And through that thankfulness and that blessing, we are enough. We are exactly what the world needs. We are food for a hungry world.
We are to take that thankfulness and that blessing and multiply it through our actions and our lives.
This is what Communion is. It feeds us, and through that, we are able to feed the world. We are able to be the healing the world needs, because we have been healed.