We pass on what we love.
Obsessed with “Strictly Come Dancing” or the new series of “I’m a Celebrity”? We pass on what we love. We find it hard to shut up about our passions, however inconsequential they might be to others. The thing is, there are things far more important to share than our favourite t.v. programme. The question is whether we are paying attention. In John’s gospel we have this fascinating miracle of Jesus. The only miracle in fact to appear in each of the gospels. We see something incredible here in the way a blessing is passed on. What does this say to what we see, what we pay attention to in our lives and, what we choose to pass on to others?
This 60 second Bible Story from Taylormation unpacks the feeding of the 5000 (Top Tip : If preaching on this passage why not use this little clip rather than have someone read it out) :
Wow. Now imagine being one of Jesus’ disciples. Take Philip for example, when Jesus looks and sees the crowd he asks him,
Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?
Philip doesn’t see it. Philip simply sees the crowd, sees the need and does the maths . . . half a year’s wages, it’s not possible! But then another disciple, Andrew, speaks up,
Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?
I love Andrew, when we first meet him the first thing he does as a disciple is to find Jesus another one (see John chapter 1 verses 40 – 42). There is a hopeful and encouraging quality about him. Okay, he isn’t sure that five small barley loaves and two fish are the answer but, he brings them to Jesus anyway.
Jesus can do so much with the little that we offer.
Jesus takes the offered five loaves and two fish, blessed the food – then asks the disciples to hand it out to the people. There aren’t 5000 (numbers of people in the bible generally “count” men, but there would have been women here, whole families . . . maybe 15-20,o00 people on this hillside waiting to be fed!
Now, imagine this. You are a disciple with a small piece of bread and a bit of fish. You walk round the people and they take the food from your hands. Again and again, they take the food from your hands. The food doesn’t run out, it keeps “being there” right in your hands as people reach for it. Jesus may have prepared the miracle, but it is served up in the hands of the disciples. Isn’t it amazing that they get to join in with what Jesus is doing?
What might God do with the little that you and I have to bring before Him? How might God multiply what we have so we can pass it on, share His goodness with others? It is the richness of God that feeds the people – through the willing hands of his astonished disciples.
Lets pay attention to what is in front of us. What is right in front of you today? What is staring you in the face? Sometimes we miss things – maybe like Philip, we have a lack of imagination and hope – we see a problem, we know what the literal solution might be (eight months wages might do it), but we forget who is present. Who is present every day as we face every situation. Not everything in front of us requires a miracle – but, maybe we could look – like Andrew did, and see what is in front of us and, with God’s help it is enough.
In fact – it is more than enough.
Nothing is wasted. Everyone is fed – more than that, they have had their fill. Who knows what the collective appetite of a hungry crowd half way up a mountain would satisfy? Well, beyond their satisfaction there are 12 baskets of bread left over. There is more than enough for everyone. Then, although we aren’t told exactly what happens the inference is clear about collecting the left overs – nothing is to be wasted. Think about that for a moment. Nothing God does is wasted. Nothing that God is doing in your life is wasted. Nothing that God is preparing you for is wasted. We have a wonderful promise as we think about our own lives in these words,
. . . that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Look at your hands. Yes, really. Have a good look. What do you already have? What can you already do? What have you already received from Jesus? Have you put it to use? Are you serving, loving and giving with what you have right where you are? This is all that is required of us. Sometimes we might feel that we lack something or we are in need of Jesus to take what we have and make more of it. Then pray! Bring who you are, what you have, what you feel called to right now and ask God to take it – just like those five loaves and two fish – then multiply it, grow it, make more of it.
Beyond the feeding of the 5000. Later in John chapter 6 we hear something astonishing from Jesus – the crowd who were fed have had their fill physically, their natural hunger is satisfied – but they have pursued Jesus – they have walked round a lake to find Him (and it wasn’t a small lake!). They long for more and this is what Jesus says to them,
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never grow hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Our satisfaction, our completeness, our being made whole and right and true does not come through what we do for Jesus. It comes through resting in what He has done and is doing for us. Jesus himself is the bread we need. Jesus himself is what others need – we might do good works, we might serve well, but true satisfaction will only come through an encounter with Christ. He changes everything – not just five loaves and two fish – but through his saving work he transforms the whole of creation!
You and I are invited to be part of this amazing story. As we join in with all that God, by his goodness and grace is doing, lets invite others to join us at the feast!