The message for August 1 2021
Today’s scripture comes from the gospel of John 6:1-14 and it goes like this; 6 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.[a] 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 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?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages[b] would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so, they[c] sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 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. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 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.”
What a great story! One of Jesus’ great miracles. Feeding 5000 people with just a few fish and loaves of bread. We have all heard the story multiple times. Each time we read it, questions pop up in our heads. First of all, how did 2 fish and 5 loaves end up feeding 5000 people. Secondly, with this miracle, what was Jesus trying to tell us. Two very good questions. I know reading the various commentaries, there can be a varying response. Today I would like to explore these two questions from the side of love, since love has been always been my focus throughout my ministry. Let’s begin by starting with;“how did 2 fish and 5 loaves feed 5000”? To answer this question, we could view this miracle from the stand point that every time the disciples broke off a piece of the bread or fish, it would somehow replenish itself. Magic and/or a mystery thatJesus performed to project the power of God.It was a miracle that hewanted the people to recognize, which showedhow much love God had for them and all people.
Another explanation would be that most of the 5000 people had some sort of food in their own baskets and were afraid to let others know they had food in fear of having it stolen or worse. So, when the little boy offered his food and Jesus blessed it, a feeling of sharing came over the crowd and they started to pull out their food too to share it. With great respect, they were opened to a love first shown by a little boy through Jesus, and so they chose to show love too. In this explanation the miracle was not so much how 2 fish and five loaves became large enough to feed 5000, but how Jesus got the people of the land to show love and share from what they had with others. I kind of like that. The miracle was more about sharing and showing love.
In both of these explanations Jesus used the power of God to project love. Although, in the first way of viewing this miracle, the impact would have only been for those who witnessed the event. Those who were not present at the event, would have had trouble believing in this miracle. The same can be said for many of us, who are just reading about the miracle and thinking about how impossible this would have been. I know I have done sermons in the past where I performed a magic trick or two and the message was lost because everyone just wanted to know how I did the trick instead of what God was speaking to them about from scripture.
Thinking about feeding 5000 with just 2 fish and 5 loaves from the second perspective, we find the miracle of “leading by example”. A message that is just as relevant now as it was back in Jesus’ time. It reminds us about sharing what we have with others, especially those in need. It is a reminder that showing kindness and showing loves comes from opening our heart, like that little boy did and shared. Jesus in his wisdom, with the assistance of that little boy, showed the people of his time how God wanted them to open their hearts to others in the world, simply by sharing in a meal, just like God shared creations and Jesus with us.
Although, we will never truly be able to know exactly what occurred while on the hillside some 2000 plus years ago, what we can take from this miracle is that Jesus truly wanted us to open ourselves to the possibilities. The possibilities of what can happen when we work together to make our faith communities, our greater communities and all of creation a better place by sharing our resources, our talents and our gifts with all we meet.
I believe that this miracle that speaks of the power of God, through love and through helping us understand that by opening our hearts, all things are possible. Even feeding 5000 people in our time, starting with two fish and five loaves.
Think about what you can do to show the blessing of God’s love by sharing!
Thank you, Jesus, for helping us open out hearts. Amen