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John 6:10-14, NIV
9 "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" 10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."
13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world."
March 14, 2011
Now the miracle that most of us know is coming, but on the day it occurred no one expected. It began with a small boy's lunch being placed into the hands of Jesus. My, what our Lord could accomplish with only five barley loaves and two small fish!
First, Jesus asked everyone to sit down on the grass. To receive from the hand of Jesus, the only requirement was to relax and be attentiveSitting prevented people from shoving and eliminated competitive behaviors. Receiving is a passive activity.
For some it must have been hard to believe that if they waited, the supply of food would not run out before it was their turn. So sitting was an act of obedience, done in faith that God would provide for all, not just the ones in the front rows or those who made the most noise.
When people were calmed, seated and respectful of each other, Jesus took those five little barley loaves, offered a prayer of thanksgiving, and distributed them to the hungry people. Then he did the same with the fish.
Everyone ate until they were satisfied, and when the disciples collected the leftovers, lo and behold, there was more food than they had started with! At least 12 times more than Jesus originally held in his hands!
When the crowd saw what had happened, in astonishment they began to say to each other, "Surely this must be the One!" How else could a miracle like that have happened?
More journal entries
March 12, 1983A little child shall lead them! It took a child with a big lunch and a heart to match to show everyone the joy of giving it all to Jesus! Five barley loaves. Barley was a cheap grain and very common. Two pieces of dried fish, maybe herring or something similar. His lunch was probably meant to last him all day. Lovingly provided by his mother who trusted that her child would return to her at the end of the day. What a surprise she would receive when he came home and told her what had happened to those snacks she had prepared, and which he had so joyfully decided to share with the great Teacher.
March 14, 1983It's Jesus' turn to speak and he said, "If you want to be nourished, stop striving and sit down!" I think he is talking to me. That's my story, too. I'm not 5000 men; I'm one woman. But I want to be fed. I want some living bread, and I have to sit down in the green, grassy place you provide for me. As I sit down, you will feed me, teach, instruct and lead me.
March 15, 1983Here comes the miracle--Jesus taking the boy's offering and thanking God. The people at rest on the grass receiving the bread they craved. Then the fish also. Jesus giving them as much as they needed to satisfy their hunger. The disciples wide-eyed with astonishment,
Everyone was seated on the grass--the walk up the hill was over, the hardship past. Now was a pleasant time to enjoy some nourishment. Jesus filled their bellies not just with bread but fish too. Imagine eating food created right from the hand of Jesus, in such an orderly and receptive crowd, on a green mountainside with a view of the Sea. What a unique circumstance.
Would I be looking at the food, the face of Jesus, the people around me, the view, the activity of the disciples? Would I be wondering how it all happened? Would I be savoring every bite? Every moment? I would be so grateful to be included in such an event? Would it be too much, too good, for me to handle?
March 21, 19835000 men, probably more men than women in the crowd because in this society, the women worked the day-to-day manual jobs of providing food and clothing plus taking care of the old and the young. If something of interest came along, it was the men who were free to go.
Jesus gave thanks. For him, it was a natural response. The self-sufficiency of modern life often fails to recognize God as the primary source of life and sustenance. By giving thanks, Jesus was pointing to God, the Father of us all, who equips us with everything necessary.
There was no butter for the bread nor sauce for the fish. What is the message in that? Maybe the distinction between needs and wants.
March 17, 1983It must have been something like Holy Communion--the bread taken internally, now a part of those who received. How well could the crowd see and hear what had happened? The details may have been fuzzy, but the food that appeared out of nowhere was obvious. People felt the event. Lots of buzz, hand communication and exclamations.
Those with their eyes toward Jesus would have seen and in a sense known that Jesus created the meal from a few loaves and fish. Taking this food internally would have been a sacred experience, with many words of thanksgiving soaring heavenward.
The disciples got into the act again. Cleaning up after the meal. Collecting the leftovers. Jesus was concerned about waste and God's miracle must not be squandered. What did they do with the leftovers? Save it for their next meal? Give it away? Waste, of course, is a matter of perception. Overeating is also waste.
March 22, 1983This is surely the Prophet. . . . The people kept saying it--there was nothing else on their minds at this moment; they were totally consumed by the thought. Here was the Prophet that all Israel was looking for! Did they mean the Messiah?
Suddenly the crowd had a great responsibility on their backs. If this was the Prophet, how should they respond? It's easy to look back in historyand say how our forefathers should have responded to God's messengers in the past. But when the Prophet appears in our day and I'm a witness in the crowd--What should I do with, and for, Jesus? Because of who he is, what is required of me?
The crowd already determined that he was the Prophet. Their next moves would determine who they were!
Who am I, O Lord, that I desire to know who you are? And where does that desire come from? It must have come from you, planted within each of your children at creation.
March 15, 2011Like many people, I sometimes find myself reluctant to share what I have for fear of ending up with nothing. If I give away one barley loaf, 5 minus 1 equals 4. That's what it looks like on paper. But I'm forgetting what Jesus taught in the previous chapter--God is always at work.
In this passage, we learn that when we give it all, God just has more to work with! Five minus 5 combined with 2 minus two equals enough bread and fish to satisfy everyone until they are able to find other resources.
I am afraid I will be poorer if I give. But according to Jesus I will be richer. It's like the little song we used to sing with children at Vacation Bible School--"Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more."
The boy in this story did not have adult fears. In child-like innocence, he gave it all away without keeping some for himself. He never had to hoard because he had parents who always provided for him.
Jesus wants us to know we have a heavenly Parent who provides for our needs, too. And the way for all to be fed is for the one who has a lunch, to loosen up those tightly-held hands, and put their resources into the working hands of Jesus, who will bless what we give him, and have his disciples distribute it. The challenge is to have faith in our heavenly Father to provide.
My part is to share what I have. God's part is to do the multiplying.