When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully - someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was.
When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.
Toward evening the disciples approached him. "We're out in the country and it's getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper."
But Jesus said, "There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper."
"All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish," they said.
Jesus said, "Bring them here."
Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation.
They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers.
About five thousand were fed.
As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people.
With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves.
At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water.
They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."
Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come ahead."
But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!"
Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"
The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down.
The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, "This is it! You are God's Son for sure!"
On return, they beached the boat at Gennesaret.
When the people got wind that he was back, they sent out word through the neighborhood and rounded up all the sick,
who asked for permission to touch the edge of his coat. And whoever touched him was healed.
After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing,
"Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?"
But Jesus put it right back on them. "Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God's commands?
God clearly says, 'Respect your father and mother,' and, 'Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.'
But you weasel around that by saying, 'Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I've given to God.'
That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God's command by your rules.
Frauds! Isaiah's prophecy of you hit the bull's-eye:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn't in it.
They act like they're worshiping me, but they don't mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy."
He then called the crowd together and said, "Listen, and take this to heart.
It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up."
Later his disciples came and told him, "Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?"
Jesus shrugged it off. "Every tree that wasn't planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots.
Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch."
Peter said, "I don't get it. Put it in plain language."
Jesus replied, "You too? Are you being willfully stupid?
Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated?
But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart.
It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing.
That's what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands - that's neither here nor there." Healing the People
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)