Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Table for 5000 please...

Read John 6

We see the account of feeding the 5000 in all four gospels.  In all of them, Jesus seems to be trying to get away from the crowd for a short time, but the crowds won’t let him go or they arrive at his next destination before he does.

The Passover was near and Jesus was healing and teaching and, in some gospels, sent the disciples out on a mission to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand.    It was getting more difficult for Jesus to have some time just with his disciples or even by himself.

John’s gospel is the only gospel in which Jesus initiates the conversation about how to feed the huge crowd that was upon them.  The scripture says that Jesus wanted to see how Phillip would handle the questions.

Phillip handled it much like most of us would.  He did some quick calculations in his head and noted that it would take 8 months of a working man’s annual salary just to buy bread for this crowd. That’s no appetizer, no side of fries, and no dessert.  That’s just for bread.

 Phillip was still living in the count and measure world that we all know so well.  He followed Jesus but was yet to know abundance in him.  He perhaps did not understand the words of the Master when he told them they would see greater things.

He was following the Master.  He was in the service of the Son of God.  He had taken on the yoke of Jesus and was learning from him, but he still thought as he always thought.  How can we do this?

Andrew noted that there was a boy who had five barley loaves and two fish, but he added a sense of hopelessness with the statement of but how far will that go with so many people?

So, Andrew does take note of what is available and then comes to his senses.  What good is so little?

Jesus then gave instructions to have the people sit in groups of about 50.  Social distancing was a whole different thing in that time. 

The grass was green and there was plenty of it.  What a perfect place for a picnic.  Jesus gave instructions to his disciples to prepare the people to eat as if they had enough to feed everyone. 

We see no discussion on the point.  If you do the math, there were about 100 groups of 50 people.  Actually, we are told that there were 5000 men.  We suspect some women and children did get to come as it was a boy who had brought the bread and fish, but the logistics are that there are at least 100 groups of 50 people who sat down surely hoping to eat.

Jesus took the bread and gave thanks.  He then distributed the food.  In other gospels the disciples distribute.  John’s account credits all of the distribution to Jesus.  You think he would have only had to go to one group, but he went to all of them.

Five loaves, two fish, and five thousand people—there should have been a lot of hungry people there.  We are told that everyone who was seated was fed.  Jesus left the clean up to the disciples.  They collected 12 baskets full of left-over pieces. 

It’s not like everyone just took a tiny piece.  The scripture said that people ate all that they wanted.  This was an all you can eat buffet and the disciples collected more left overs than what they had started with. 

It was a miracle, one recorded in each gospel, but other than a historical record of the miracles of Jesus, is there anything for us?

We say that we follow Jesus; yet we limit ourselves to the rules of this world.

We see enough food for a dozen people.  Jesus saw more than enough for a multitude.

Jesus said that to do the will of the One who sent him was his food, but at the end of this experience, there was a bunch of bread in a bunch of baskets and people were full.

What else should we see?

The disciples asked the people to be seated on the grass in groups.  They did not know what was next.  The people did not know what was next, but everyone did as Jesus instructed.

The boy had no selfishness in him.  We do not see him holding on to his lunch.  What was his was given freely to the Master.  How many today would discreetly keep what they had so as to take care of themselves?

People obeyed.  People gave.  Jesus blessed.  People were satisfied.

Earlier, Jesus noted that what he was doing was his testimony.  Surely this was the biggest testimony yet. 

Jesus knew that the people gathered were ready to make him king right then.  They believed in this Jesus.  What else could they do?

Jesus knowing that his time had not yet come, withdrew to the mountain.  He must have told his disciples to go ahead and head across the water because they did not wait for him.

If there ever was a time to sing Trust and Obey, this was it.  The disciples still had carnal minds but they trusted.

The people were surely no logistical geniuses, but the obeyed when told to sit by groups.

Jesus met their needs.  They were filled.  They were amazed.  They were ready to jump on the bandwagon, but Jesus knew they had not really believed in him enough to truly follow him.  More on that later.

Let’s trust in the Lord.

Let’s do what he says.

Let’s receive the blessings of our Lord.

Let’s takeon his yoke and learn from him.


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