“After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” (John 6:1-14)
I had many different thoughts as I read through this passage. If I had interrupted the flow of the story, however, it would have spread the scripture text a page at least. So I present my thoughts in the order that I thought them, and hope to save space for the next section.
The gospel of John presents a more “mystic” or “spiritual” side of Jesus; hence the statement by the writer of John that he already knew what was going to happen – that a miracle would happen with just a little bit of food.
Do not be fooled, gentle reader, that six months of wages would not buy much. I am pretty sure that the “wages” were not just small amounts that a fisherman would get, but the salary of one who had position and resources in the society.
Can you imagine 5,000 people?! Imagine a church pew. Most church pews can hold 10 people. Now have two rows so there is an aisle down the middle and on each side. Now, count out 250 rows of pews! Think of how much Communion Bread and Wine it would take! Now, imagine the leftover Communion bread – left over after everyone has eaten to being full! Twelve baskets!! Enough maybe to have Communion again with the little bits of bread?!
No wonder the people thought Jesus was something extraordinary!!
“When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (Verses 15)
But Jesus was not the type of ruler, nor prophet or king, whose mission it was to make sure the people were feed for all time. No, Jesus (and God) had a different agenda and plan.
But let’s a minute and think about this. Do we expect Jesus, and God, to take care of us and provide us with all the material possessions we need? Jesus taught his disciples to pray “Give us Lord our daily bread”; but I do not think that is the same as “give us Lord money to buy bread for the rest of our lives.” Do we come to God expecting all our needs to be meet? In one of the gospels (I can’t think right now which gospel it was) Jesus accuses the crowds of just following him to get free food, or to see the next miracle. Is that what we expect of our God? A vending machine that supplies us with all that we need?
“When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. (Verses 16-21)
We are followers of a marvelous miraculous God, and Jesus Christ. A Savior who can solve any problem, cure any illness, and do anything. Is that why we follow Jesus Christ, and God?
On Saturday I reminded you that, according to the Psalm 89, we are worthy of God’s blessing and protection. But to be found worthy, we need to do . . . . something . . . other than sit on a mountain side and wait to be feed. This lectionary year is one of renewal and recommitment. It is well for us to think about who we are, and who God is. Who we are to God, and Who God is to us. May you think deep and well beloved reader. Selah!