Scripture: John 6:1-15
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.” 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.
Our passage, today, is a bit more lengthy than what I typically like to use in one post. But there’s really no logical place to break this story up, so we’re just going to take it all in at once. What I hope that you noticed while you read these verses was the use of the word “sign.” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the first half of John’s gospel is structured around seven signs performed by Jesus. Each of them indicates something about the very nature and character of who Jesus is. This familiar story, the feeding of the five thousand, is the fourth of these signs.
I had a professor in seminary who called this one “the miracle of enough.” I absolutely love that language. In the face of five thousand hungry people, Jesus comes to them with only the lunch of one boy. That image is so ridiculous that it’s almost comical. Yet, Jesus gave thanks for what he had, and then he began distributing. And he kept on distributing. He didn’t stop until all were full. Jesus didn’t stop until he had leftovers – twelve baskets full of leftovers! So, not only is there enough for all there, now there is enough for anybody else who wants to join the crowd.
Two thoughts on this miracle of enough. First, it points to the very abundance of grace that Christ pours out on us. Not only does he fill us up with it, but he gives so much that it overflows from us out onto others. Second, there is a more tangible, physical lesson, here. That is the idea that there are enough resources to go around for everyone to share and live in relative contentment. The purveying myth is that we must always be in competition with each other for those limited resources that give us life and wealth. We see this “myth of not enough” play out on individual and global scales. But Jesus and his miracle of enough should encourage the Church to abandon the competitive desire for more, and instead live and share with the faith that Christ has provided all we’ll ever need. This, I believe, is a calling to stewardship. It’s a calling to lay down the force of competitive greed that drives much of the economy of our world. If we live like there is enough to go around for everyone, then we begin to live the life of generosity and stewardship to which Christ calls us.
Oh Lord, you who are an abundant giver and the provider of everything I need, satisfy me when I’ve had my fill. Free me from the bonds of competition and greed so that instead of hoarding what I have, I will be free to be generous just as you are generous. Teach me to be a good steward to all the gifts – both spiritual and physical – that you’ve given to me. Amen.
Thought for the Day:
A life of good stewardship starts by believing that Christ has made enough to go around.