Loaves and Fishes John 6:1-14

Tue, 04/01/2008

Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberius. 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 Phillip, "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. Phillip 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." Most Christians know this story well. A version of it appears in all four Gospels. Like all good stories, it changes a bit with each telling—sometimes there are 5,000 fed, sometimes 4,000. Some versions start with five loaves, others with seven. However, the central theme of the story remains the same: While the disciples look at so many people who need to be fed and see only scarcity, Jesus knows that what they have will be sufficient for him to feed the multitude. As Christians in a nation of plenty, how often do we still only see scarcity? Do we truly believe that God is going to provide what we need and even enough for us to share with others? John's account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes is the only one that includes the little boy. The boy has been better prepared than the rest of the crowd and brought his meal with him. However, he gives it up, trusting Jesus to do what is best with it. We must follow the boy's example—not just trusting God with our financial resources, but also offering our power as citizens in a democracy. When we use our voices to call for Congress to increase funding for effective programs that help developing countries in Africa and other poor parts of the world, we are trusting God to do miraculous things with this small action. IN A NATION OF PLENTY, HOW OFTEN DO WE STILL ONLY SEE SCARCITY? As we read the Bible and this miracle appears again and again, it should remind us that God sees the abundance that already exists in our world. Let us adopt that vision as well. Once we truly see that, hunger in our midst becomes even more scandalous. That abundance should convict us to be even more persistent in our advocacy—even more insistent that we create a world where all are fed.