Thought for the Day by Angela Birkin (St Michael’s)
Reading: John 6.1-15
The miracle story of the feeding of the multitude, five thousand men with additional women and children as reported by Matthew, is the only miracle story of Jesus which is included in all four Gospels (see Mark 6.32-44, Matthew 14.13-21, Luke 9.10-17).
It is thus exceptional. It is important!
For John the Evangelist, it is one of the signs that Jesus did, with a deeper meaning than simply feeding thousands with bread and fish. It is Passover time, the second such time in John’s Gospel, and John wants us to think both of the Passover and the liberation of the children of Israel from Egypt by God (Exodus 12), and of the other Passover times at the beginning and end of Jesus’ ministry (John 2.13-25, John chapters 12-19).
As with the miracle at the wedding in Cana, this is a miracle of abundance. Everyone ate until they were satisfied, and there were still twelve baskets of food left over which was much more than the five barley loaves and two fish that Jesus was offered by the boy.
John shows the connection of this miracle with the mission of Jesus,
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,”(John 10.10)
and with the Eucharist as Jesus’ words recall those used in the early church’s eucharistic practice,
“Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them”(John 6.11)
“Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them”(Luke 22.19)
The crowd who were fed by Jesus, appreciating their full bellies, wanted to make him king, by force if necessary. Feeding people is a political act! Jesus resisted them because he was offering them even more than temporarily full stomachs.
This Lent, do we just want a full belly, or abundant life that our generous God offers us through Jesus Christ?
This Lent, are we prepared both to offer people full bellies and to tell them of the abundant life in Christ that is also theirs if they want it?
This Lent are we willing to offer Jesus what little we have and see what miracle he will bring about?