The Bread of Life

7:30 AM

john 6:1-14

Many hunger. At the basis of humanity is the need to feed. Mortality must be propped up by everyday bread.

Jesus knew this as He watched the crowd come, masses up the mountain. A widow starving for love. Religious men sated with gluttony. The father carrying his son, eaten by poverty, hungry for hope. In the world, in this broken world, many hungered, and the Lord Himself hungered for the bread of His Father's will -- to draw near the hungry.

But they would not believe heavenly before earthly, soul hunger masked by noon grumbling.

"Philip." He stood next to his Lord, watching the crowd come, come up to Jesus. "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?"

So simple a question. It was almost rhetorical. After water turned to wine, sickness turned to health, the answer to the test should have been, "You could call down manna from heaven, Lord."

But nothing had sunk in yet, not in the form of belief. Philip had seen. Philip had heard. Philip knew he walked and talked with God, I AM, Yahweh fleshly clothed. Philip knew. But when the test came, Philip forgot to believe. He saw the thousands -- the thousands -- a swamp of impossibility. Coinage and figures and labor ran through his mind -- a denarius a day, times several hundred.

Jesus knew what He would do. (He wasn't accustomed to asking for advice.) Yet Philip was too attuned to facts and impossibilities that in all his looking and calculations, he forgot the authority at his side. This was the test: "How will I provide?" This was his answer: "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little."

As if Jesus didn't know.

How will you do it, Lord? You cannot. The figures don't add up. It's not fiscally possible.

Seeing the crowd, hearing the test, Andrew scored a little better. A small boy with lunch, five barley loaves and two fish, had offered to share with his Lord. He had been moved to give everything out of a little.

Hopefully, hesitantly, remembering the sick who walked whole, Andrew said, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish" -- but what was he thinking, to demand a miracle of Jesus? Surely this was a trick question -- that instead of expecting his Lord to worry about empty stomachs, He would send Andrew and Philip running down the mountain for lunch. Ordinary means for ordinary ends. Andrew hesitated, shrugged, squashed faith for prudence: "But what are they for so many?"

Faith was dead on the face of that mountain, shattered by wisdom, insurance, common sense.

"Have the people sit down." That was all. Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." The men on their mortal feet, ready to do anything for God but trust -- they could believe nothing until they were seated. Still. Humbled. Reminded of weariness. Only the seated could receive.

Five loaves and two fish.

The men a couple rows back saw they were going home empty-handed. Some, with the mustard seed of faith, waited for the prayer, the magic words, the plea to send more than what was had. But Jesus gave thanks.

And He broke the bread into smaller pieces.

Out of the little He gave away much to all who were seated. He never once believed nothing was too little, that five loaves and two fish were too big a thing for God. He didn't hoard. He didn't beg. He gave thanks -- and broke the bread.

Philip, Andrew and the rest, they ate little, knowing how little there was, wanting the others to satisfy their needs, not believing God to have the same concern. The fish went around, and around, and around, until five thousand and Jesus could eat no more. But the leftovers -- there were twelve baskets, filled, stuffed, overflowing with the fragments of five barley loaves and two fish. One basket for each unbelieving disciple. One basket so full that it was almost gluttonous, excessive -- it had to be shared.

Jesus looked at Philip. Philip looked his basket, overflowing.

What would we believe, if we didn't have the common sense not to?

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3 impressions

  1. That was a very good re-telling, Bailey. It was thought provoking, almost like a sermon. :)

  2. Bailey, your last line hit me hard tonight ... thank you for this retelling of one of my favorite conversations in the Gospels. It was just what I needed to remember.


  3. A thought for you, courtesy of C. S. Lewis: "Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."

    What would we see, if we didn't have the common sense not to?


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