Have you ever had a day where you worried that you weren’t going to have enough? Enough love. Enough patience. Enough energy. Enough smarts. Enough food. Enough money.
Jesus and his disciples had a day like that. Five thousand unexpected guests showed up for dinner and they were a long way from a grocery store. Just when everyone was about to panic, Jesus turns a little boy’s lunch into a feast – complete with leftovers.
When we are willing to surrender our lunches – our resources – Jesus specializes in turning “not enough” into plenty. Consider the story from the Gospel of John:
Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 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. 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.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelves baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 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.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. – John 6:1-15
In North America we talk about being hungry a lot, but often what we really mean is, “it would be fun to eat.” Have you ever been truly hungry? Have you ever lived through a period of time when you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from? How has that experience affected how you view food?
John explains that the crowd was following Jesus because of the miracles he was performing, especially healing the sick. What do you think the crowd was hoping for as they followed Jesus from place to place? How do you think Jesus felt about the crowd’s motivation? Why do you follow Jesus?
Throughout the gospels we see Jesus in the mountains. It must have been a place of peace and refuge for him. Where is the place where you feel the most peaceful? What is it about that place that brings you peace?
What a gift the disciples received! To be able to sit down with Jesus on a mountainside must have been an extraordinary experience. In what ways is Jesus inviting you to sit down with him? Are you resisting or accepting his invitation? Why?
All of a sudden, Jesus’ quiet time with his disciples was invaded by a large, miracle-hungry crowd. Take a moment and imagine the scene from a variety of perspectives – the crowd arriving, Jesus, and the disciples experiencing an interruption.
Jesus immediately anticipated the crowd’s physical needs. They may have been following him with mixed motives, but Jesus loves and serves them regardless. Are you ever tempted to think that Jesus is unaware or callous towards your needs? In what ways is he meeting your needs during this time in your life?
Why do you think Jesus was testing Philip? How do you feel about Jesus testing Philip? Have you ever felt tested by God? How did you respond?
Offer your thoughts to God and ask him to speak to you. Offer a prayer in words to God. Thank God for his presence. Express your desire to experience his presence in a deeper way.
Leave this time trusting that your needs will be met.
Note from the Editor: Today’s featured image is, “The Multiplication of Breads,” by Alexander Ivanov.