July 30, 2000

John 6:1-21 (CEV)

Jesus crossed Lake Galilee, which was also known as Like Tiberias. A large crowd had seen him work miracles to heal the sick, and those people went with him. It was almost time for the Jewish festival of Passover, and Jesus went up on a mountain with his disciples and sat down.

When Jesus saw the large crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, "Where will we get enough food to feed all these people? He said this to test Philip, since he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered, "Don't you know that it would take almost a year's wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?"

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?"

The ground was covered with grass, and Jesus told his disciples to have everyone sit down. About five thousand men were in the crowd. Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish,, until everyone had plenty to eat.

The people at all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted. The disciples gathered them up and filled twelve large baskets with what was left over from the five barley loaves.

After the people had see Jesus work this sign, they began saying, "This must be the Prophet who is to come into the world!" Jesus realized that they would try to force him to be their king. So he went up on a mountain, where he could be alone.

That evening, Jesus' disciples went down to the lake. They got into a boat and started across for Capernaum. Later that evening Jesus had still not come to them, and a strong wind was making the water rough.

When the disciples had rowed for three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water. He kept coming closer to the boat, and they were terrified. But he said, "I am Jesus! Don't be afraid!" The disciples wanted to take him into the boat, but suddenly the boat reached the shore where they were headed.


1. It was almost time to remember the Exodus from slavery to freedom. This can be recognized in the movement from hunger to enough. Here we have another manna scene. What seems insubstantial and inconsequential adds up to more than enough. As we wonder where in the world we will get the resources to aid folks to freedom (which comes in many different arenas of life) a first action is recognizing we don't have enough according to our usual ways of measuring. Our usual fashion is to claim life is a zero-sum game -- if I give you something I no longer have it and feel deprived so I must get more than you. According to these rules we don't have enough for ourselves, much less anyone else. Another way must be found.

2. A new way needs new eyes. Our usual eyes see deprivation and loss. Our new eyes will begin with thanks. To be thankful is to not be constrained by the usual ways of thinking. To be thankful is to be open to what can still happen which is not bound by the past. Several years ago the United Methodist Women used a slogan, "For all that has been, thanks!; for all that will be, yes!" This attitude is prelude to a surplus of health.

3. As per usual, it is hard to live with new eyes. We keep looking at the future from the perspective of our past. The best folks knew to do was to proclaim Jesus as King. As Samuel the Prophet warned when he anointed Saul as Israel's first king, "A king will conscript and tax you and finally you will cry out for GOD to save you from the king." Using this model, this whole Jesus is King business is very strange. It would lead GOD to cry out against Jesus. A new model of leadership is needed. So Jesus moves off, alone. Pray for new eyes which will see leadership in new ways.

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