THE LOAVES AND THE FISHES-JOHN 6:1-13
Prayer: “Lord as you fed the crowd with loaves and fishes; please feed us today with your Word”.
What is the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? Glass of water-is it half full or half empty?
The optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty. The pessimist sees a difficulty in every opportunity. Which one are you?
In the gospel lesson for today we meet two of Jesus’ disciples-one is a pessimist-the other is an optimist.
Background: Significant story-apart from the resurrection accounts this is the only story to appear in all four gospels.
There are times when we all need to have a break-get away from the pressures-routines of daily life. We need time to recharge our physical-spiritual-emotional batteries. It was much the same with Jesus and the disciples.
There were times when Jesus needed to get away from the pressure of ministry- from teaching-preaching-healing-ministering to people. His work was demanding-exhausting.
Jesus favourite place for these times of R and R were the hills around Lake Galilee. On this occasion Jesus set sail with the disciples for the hills on the far side of the Lake for some rest and recreation. But this was not to be. The crowds that were following Jesus could see the direction the boat was taking. So they followed along the shore of the Lake.
At the sight of the vast crowd, Jesus felt compassion for them. He could see that they were tired-hungry. Many had walked long distances to see him. So Jesus decided they should be fed.
Now there are many aspects of this story that we could look at-concern for those in need-the miracle of feeding such a large crowd with such meagre resources-5 barley loaves and 2 small fish. That wouldn’t feed a family leave alone a crowd of over 5,000.
But what I want to do is to consider the reaction of 3 people-two disciples and the boy.
Philip: Jesus turns to Philip and asks him where they could buy sufficient food to feed the crowd. Philip was the natural person to ask because he came from Bethsaida-a nearby town and would have local knowledge. John-the gospel writer makes it clear that Jesus asks Philip the question as a means of testing him. Jesus already knew what he would do. He asked the question to see how much faith-trust
Philip had in him.
And we notice that Philip doesn’t do very well. His answer is full of pessimism. He says that even if they had sufficient money- 8 months wages (which they don’t) and even if they could find a place to buy food (which they can’t) –there still wouldn’t be enough for everybody to have a bite. That was Philip’s contribution to solving the problem. In effect he was saying, “It’s impossible! It can’t be done!” Its a hopeless situation”.
The problem with Philip of course was that he couldn’t think outside the square. He could only see the human resources-he didn’t even consider God’s resources. That is why he gave up so easily. Perhaps there are times when we respond like Philip: Times when we can only see the difficulties-impossibilities and we give up too easily. We forget the promises God makes:
“MY GOD WILL SUPPY ALL YOUR NEEDS”.
Andrew: If Philip was the pessimist, Andrew was the optimist. Andrew said, “I’ll see what I can do and trust Jesus to do the rest. Andrew had what I call the ministry of “bringing people to Jesus”. It was Andrew who brought his brother Peter to Jesus and you know how significant that was.
On this occasion Andrew brought the young lad to Jesus and in doing this made the miracle possible. Andrew wasn’t exactly sure how Jesus could use this small offering but the trusts that Jesus will be able to do something.
No one knows what will happen and what the outcome will be when we bring someone to Jesus. If parents bring up their children to know-love God who can say what great things that child may one day do for God-Timothy-St Augustine-Isaac Watts-John Wesley.
The story is told of a German school teacher in the late 15th century who when he entered the classroom on the morning would take off his cap and bow to the boys. When asked why he did this he replied, “You never know what one of these boys may someday become”.
He was right because one of the boys in his class was Martin Luther.
Andrew really had no idea what the result would be when he brought the young lad with his 5 bread rolls and 2 small fish to Jesus that day. But what he was doing was to provide the materials for a miracle. Let us never forget that. We never know what possibilities we are releasing when we invite someone to come and meet Jesus. We don’t know how God might use such a person.
Albert McMakin was a 24 year old farmer who had come to faith in Christ. Albert was keen to get his friend to come to a meeting to hear about Jesus but this young man was hard to persuade. Eventually Albert managed to persuade the young man to come by letting him drive the truck. The young man was attracted by what he heard and one night gave his life to Christ. The young man who drove the truck was Billy Graham. The year was 1934. Since then Billy Graham has presented the gospel to millions around the world.
Now we cannot all be like Billy Graham but we can be like Albert –we can bring our friends to Jesus and leaving the result to him. That is what Andrew did.
May this example encourage us to share our faith with others-to tell others about Jesus. Our job is to offer the invitation –the result we leave to the Holy Spirit.
Let us not be a pessimist like Philip who could only see the impossibility in the situation. Rather let us be an optimist like Andrew who knew that Jesus could turn impossibilities into possibilities.
The Young lad:
He did not have much to offer-5 barley loaves-the size of bread rolls and two small fish-not tuna or barramundi, rather the size of sardines. That was not a very promising start-in fact it was a rather meagre offering. Yet out of that small amount Jesus was able to work a miracle.
In some ways we are rather like that young man. We may not think that we have much to offer to God. But the point is that God can make use of whatever gift we have to offer. It doesn’t have to be large-great-spectacular. Look what Jesus did with the young lad’s small offering.
So don’t feel embarrassed –inadequate that you don’t have more to offer to God. Simply bring to God who you are and what you have. And God will do the rest.
Remember: 5 small bread rolls and two small fish in the hands of Jesus fed a crowd-and there were 12 baskets full left over after they had filled themselves up.
Key Thought: A little can become a lot in the hands of Jesus.
Who knows what miracle the Lord might do with the little that we offer to him.