John 6:1-15 Two Kinds of Food

A meal from a King

We come to a story today that each of the previous gospel writers included in their accounts. It is the story of Jesus feeding more than 5,000 people. This was an amazing miracle and I’m glad all four included this event, but it makes it a bit hard on me today. I try to find something new each time we encounter a repeated story, but today I’m having trouble doing that.

FIRST of all, I’M not the one who is supposed to come up with the new insight. God is the director of my course, so I have to trust Him to lead me to where we need to be. Sorry Father fro trying to take the reins from Your hands. I’m simply going to go through the things I noticed when reading today’s account.

We know a little of the “backstory” for this event from Matthew, Mark and Luke’s accounts. We know that Jesus was taking His disciples to this “desolate place” for a little alone time. John the Baptist’s death was fresh and raw for Jesus. We also know that Jesus’ disciples had recently returned from their first “missionary journey.” The disciples were probably tired.

In John’s account he has Jesus watching as the crowd approaches. Jesus and His disciples are already sitting down. I notice that Jesus didn’t ask one of His most often used disciples the question about feeding the people. Instead He chooses to ask Philip about feeding the people. Matthew, Mark and Luke stress the fact that the disciples first approached Jesus about the dinner issue. John shows us a bit more of that discussion.

Jesus asks Philip how they could fulfill the people’s needs through their own means. “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (verse 5). Jesus already knows there are no stores nearby. There wouldn’t be enough bread to feed everyone even if one were close, nor would the disciples possess enough money to buy enough supplies for everyone. “It’s HOPELESS! There is NO WAY we can do it!”

Very true Philip. There was no natural way it could be done. So that leaves the supernatural, or a miracle to provide what they needed instead.

In John’s telling of this event he makes certain that we see that the supplies used in this miracle didn’t come from the disciples’ stores, but from a small boy. Peter is the one who brings the boy’s provisions to Jesus’ attention. How did Peter know what the boy had? Was the boy traveling with Jesus’ group? Did he boy seek Peter out to offer him use of his lunch? What was the boy expecting to happen with such a small amount of food?

Children often have an inflated sense of self. Many think that the small things they do have great power. An example would be when my granddaughter “picks up” her mother. In actuality, she lifts her slightly off the ground for just a moment, but claims she has picked her up. Is that what was behind the young man’s offer of his food to Peter?

Jesus took that little bit he had and did AMAZING things with it. We need to learn the lesson of the boy. Jesus doesn’t need the biggest or newest thing to bring about His miracles. All He really needs is a willing heart and an obedient servant.

We know the story of the meal and the leftovers that were gathered afterwards. I wonder who got to keep the leftovers. Was it the boy or Jesus disciples? Did the disciples carry them home for the young boy? Somebody got to take a break from the kitchen for a while.

I also noticed that Jesus didn’t want any of the food going to waste. That’s the reason His disciples were sent out with the baskets. Nothing Jesus ever does, then or now, is wasted. We may not see the purpose of it right away, but we can be certain that He will tie it in later. In fact He used the memory of the leftovers in a discussion later on with the disciples.

The last thing I noticed about John’s telling of the events is the people’s reaction. They were convinced that He was “the Prophet who is to come into the world” (verse 14). In other words, He was their deliver, their King. He was, but not how they were thinking. Jesus put a stop to their plans right away because they were again looking to the natural world instead of the spiritual one. They were following man’s plans instead of God’s. After Jesus exited the crowd, I wonder how many of them “forgot” all about making Him King. Did His customary group who accompanied Him on His journey grow because of that meal? How long did it keep them believing? It certainly didn’t stay with the disciples long term, at first.

Father God, thank You for showing us different aspects of the familiar stories. Thank You for including detail to make us wonder and think. Thank You that we can’t mess up Your plan, even if we try! You have it all in control. Thank You for meeting all of our needs; physical and spiritual.

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