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John 6:1-15, Feeding the Five Thousand

Saturday, February 10

Miracle or Stone Soup?

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

I don’t know whether this is a story of a supernatural miracle, where bread and fish multiply, or a telling of a stone soup story, where the need of the crowd is met due to the ever growing generosity of crowd members sharing what they have brought. Either way, this story tells us of the generous nature of Jesus who modeled hospitality everywhere he went. Whether the food multiplies, or the generosity of the crowd multiplies, it is a miracle.

The call to the disciples was to be the agents of hospitality. To step out in faith and deliver. Whether feeding the masses or stepping out of a boat in a storm, Jesus’ invitation was for action. He would not be with them for long. They needed to learn to be the change.

I remember growing up hearing my dad tell of his childhood just following the Great Depression. Whenever people showed up at the door for a visit, grandma would feed them, often when there wasn’t even enough to feed her own family. She would whisper, “FHB” meaning “family hold back,” so that the guests would leave satisfied.

I did not experience that level of poverty during my own childhood, but I did inherit my grandmother’s love of feeding others, and her willingness to sacrifice for others. In my household now, the more the merrier, and in my family of 5 we regularly feed as many as 12 on any given night. We are a poorer family than I was growing up, but it doesn’t matter to me. Sharing a meal with guests is never more expensive than I can afford. Because it is more than sharing food. It is sharing conversation, building relationships, and coming together in a tender and vulnerable way. Jesus knew that the way to effect change in the world was by strengthening relationships between people, and the way to strengthen relationships between people was to share meals together. Miracle or stone soup? The miracle was the profound change made possible by the sharing of food.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 6:1-15

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Earlier Event: February 9
John 5:30-47, Witnesses to Jesus
Later Event: February 11
John 9:1-41, The Man Born Blind