Studying through the book of John with my students on Sunday mornings has been an amazing adventure. John was so good at his descriptions of feeling and emotions in his writings. This past week we took an intimate look at John 6:1-14. I am sure that over the thirty years of my Salvation Journey I have read this story of Jesus feeding the 5,000+ a hundred times, but this time it became amazing.
There is something to take out of every single verse. I don’t have the time to go into every verse but one of the main themes that I have point out is this, “On the edge of the miraculous is the ordinary and the impossible.”
There on a hill Jesus sat down to teach his twelve, little did they know that they were about to be in the midst of an amazing display of power. Jesus looked up and had compassion on the huge crowd flowing up the hill towards him. Even though this same crowd would some day cry out “Crucify Him,” Jesus loved them; loved them enough to ask Philip where they could find some food to feed all of them. This is interesting because Philip just happened to be from the nearby town of Bethsaida, which most likely only had a few thousand people in the entire town, which would mean these people had been out walking all day, from somewhere else, trying to find Jesus.
Jesus sensed they we hungry and tired. Philip and Andrew, and I am sure the rest of the twelve, analyzed the situation and came up with the obvious sequitur – there isn’t enough money or food that could give each person even a scrap of Passover Cuisine.
“…Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” How far indeed.
Of course Jesus took the impossible and turned it into a miracle, feeding every person to tummy rubbing goodness. That was amazing enough. He could have stopped there and we would have been awed as we staggered back. But Jesus, no he had to one up himself. He commanded his twelve to gather up the leftovers, a basker for each of them.
Jesus, not only is he the master of creating miracles out of the impossible but he is the master of creating leftovers. All throughout the scriptures God produces more than enough. I call it the “Theology of the Leftovers” Ps. 23:5, Ps. 34:9, Job 42:10, Joel 2:24, Mal. 3:10, Eph. 3:20, and the list goes on. He grants “immeasurably more,” “twice as much,” “one hundred fold,” “heavenly floodgates.”
And…what does his miracle percolate through? Our poverty. In John 6:1-14, Jesus took “five barley loaves and two small fish,” and produced an abundance. Barley was the bread of the poor and most likely, because it was the Passover, the barley loaves were flat bread, i.e. without yeast-not fluffy. The fish were probably small sardine sized fish. The offering of food was from poverty and turned to greatness.
Two final thoughts…I must give God all I have–out of my poverty–and expect him to make it great, because…on the edge of the miraculous is the ordinary and the impossible.