Holy Gospel According to St. John 6:1-15
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee,
also called the Sea of Tiberias. 6:2 A large crowd kept following
him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.
6:3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his
disciples. 6:4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was
near. 6:5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward
him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these
people to eat?" 6:6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew
what he was going to do. 6:7 Philip answered him, "Six months'
wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a
little." 6:8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother,
said to him, 6:9 "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves
and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" 6:10 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.
6:11 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. 6:12 When they were satisfied, he told his
disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may
be lost." 6:13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of
the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled
twelve baskets. 6:14 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." 6:15 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.
us by who he chooses to exalt and who he may choose to humble
Dear Friends in Christ and of the Elias Lutheran Congregation,
Praise the Lord! Hope you are well in all ways.
Here at Elias, we are made up of about 400 members, although we
worship only about 85-100 per Sunday. Admittedly, we are sometimes
lacking in zeal for Christ and sometimes can be counted among the
poor in spirit. But the Lord is yet in our midst, we are not
forsaken--thanks to his most gracious love and great patience with
us. I pray daily that we will have revival in our midst--that we
might hunger and thirst for Christ's righteousness and so return
to the Lord with pure hearts. Our church is getting ready to
celebrate 250 years of service to Christ (next year is the big
one!) and we intend to remain faithful to his Word for another 250
. . . . As the Pastor I feel a great responsibility to pray
continually and ask wisdom of the Lord of the Harvest--that he
would indeed guide me and teach me his ways . . . that I might
lead this flock faithfully to his Glory!!
As I have been considering my ministry here at Elias over the
past 3 years, I think that sometimes Christ surprises us by who he
chooses to exalt and who he may choose to humble . . . and yet his
kingdom does come, regardless of me or anyone . . . God's kingdom
continues to manifest in our midst without regard to who we are or
where we come from . . . And so, I tend to think that the greatest
calling of the Christian is humility and to go to our knees in
prayer and thanksgiving, that such a God as ours has chosen us to
call us his own people -- not that we Lutherans are unique, but
that God chooses to call people throughout the world and
throughout all of time to follow him faithfully and participate in
the kingdom's unfolding.
This reminds me of this past Sunday's lesson, where Jesus fed
the 5000, (John 6:1-21 or Mark 6:35+) and when Jesus challenged
his disciples to feed the multitude, they were immediately
overwhelmed at the mere thought of feeding such a crowd.
This leaves us to wonder, would we be any different?? Or would
we have that "mustard seed of faith" to even suggest, as Andrew
does in Sunday's gospel, "Here are 5 loaves of barley bread and 2
dried fish." Would it even cross our minds that such a meager
portion could begin to suggest the possibility that this would
make a start towards feeding such a crowd?! I think that in our
own flesh and in our calculating minds, we would be afraid to even
think up such an idea--because we would risk being laughed at or
being thought of as purely foolish!
This is the natural tendency of our human nature. We
immediately concern ourselves with ourselves . . . we would not
wish for anyone to look at us, or listen to us - and think we were
"stupid" or "simple-minded." We, like the disciples, do not want
to be made to look bad . . . we are always too concerned with our
status amidst the crowds, we are always too worried that we will
be dismissed as fools or regarded as unworthy of respect.
But this is precisely what Jesus seems to be concerned with
regarding us. This is what the lesson of the miraculous feeding
aims to address--I mean, Jesus wants for us to take our eyes (and
thoughts) off of ourselves and to think only of the possibilities
that exist and can be accomplished by Christ--through us! After
all, the works Jesus asks us to do can only be accomplished by
faith alone!!! Jesus wants for us to utterly dismiss our own human
limitations . . . for nothing is impossible with God!! Jesus does
not want us to think poorly of ourselves, even though we are poor
of spirit and lacking of faith (Lord help thou my unbelief!!) but
Jesus wants us to solely focus our gaze and attention upon him --
Jesus wants us to trust only in what God can do through our
minuscule level of faith.
And so, as we consider the multitudes of the poorest of the
poor all around us--and how can we possibly meet the needs of only
a few of them? . . . Jesus encourages us to make a response. Don't
become overwhelmed by the numbers and the enormity of the need.
Don't allow the terror of wars, the devastation of drought, nor
the sadness of death to discourage you from being faithful to
Christ. Jesus knows, few of us have the wealth it might take to
buy bread for all–although it encourages us to hear the story
about Bill Gates giving away millions to help our brothers and
sisters in Africa.
Few of us have connections to power, by which we might persuade
an army to defend the cause of the poor and the innocent (yet
someone reading and listening to this message might have the means
or the access to persons of earthly power who could help to work
for peace or to stop unchecked aggression by any destructive
force) . . . . Jesus asks us to exercise whatever means are at our
disposal–like noticing the child standing beside us in the crowds
of life who has 5 loaves and 2 fish. Perhaps you know someone or
are related to someone who has enormous wealth or large property,
or maybe we are living beside someone whose son is in jail and
whose husband is an alcoholic . . . yet through the miracle of
Christ's grace, even this neighbor has something to give–we need
to be faithful to notice them.
"Lord, there is a boy here with 5 loaves and 2 fish." This is
all that Jesus asks of us. Look around you . . . what do you see??
(Consider the Prophet Amos' experience with God as God challenges
him to look at many naturally occurring phenomena and to
contemplate their meaning: see Amos chapter 8) . . . Any one of us
could have been Andrew that day, "Lord I see a boy here who has
his lunch in a basket -- but what is this little bit of food
amidst such a great crowd?" It was not that Andrew felt the boy's
lunch could feed the crowd that day, but that Andrew had the
imagination and questioning faith . . . that this could some how
be the beginning of the miraculous feeding Jesus' intended.
Jesus essentially tells Andrew, "Never mind that it appears
that there is so little here. Did I not tell you that if you
believed you would see and do greater miracles than I performed
while I was with you?" And then Jesus tells Andrew and the
disciples to have the people sit down on the green grass, and
Jesus takes the loaves and the fish, which apparently the young
lad willingly offered up. Jesus takes this (seemingly)
ridiculously small offering (in light of the hungry multitude!)
and he begins to pray . . . and Jesus blesses those loaves and
fish and then Jesus himself (John 6:11) begins to distribute the
bread and the fish to the crowd . . . Mark's gospel leads us to
believe that the disciples were also helping to take the bread and
the fish to the people. And all at once the crowd is being fed --
everyone is able to eat as much as they want and they are all
Yet, the miracle does not end even there . . . there are left
overs!! And Jesus takes great care to be sure that nothing is
wasted of this miracle. The scraps and the crumbs are all very
important. There can be nothing wasted when God has come into our
midst to bless us with his love and richness. When God throws a
party -- every little thing about that party is important . . .
and Christ wants us to notice that what God has given us must not
be wasted nor squandered. But instead conserved and cared
for--because it is a holy thing when God gives us a blessing --
the blessing is given for the good of all and we are called to
remember the holiness of the objects, like earth's bounty, and the
holiness of the moment -- Christ has walked amongst us and blessed
us with his life-giving food.
Finally brothers and sisters. Remember this lesson for yourself
and for your family. When Jesus asks you or me to be a part of the
miracle -- no matter what that is . . . . do not discount your
ability to play a part in that mighty work of God which is about
to unfold. Do not be ashamed that you have nothing to offer. But
think, by faith, of what you do have!!
"Lord, I know that you are with me always" . . . This is the
gift of faith! You are rich!! "Lord, I have only a little bit of
beans to feed my family this week, maybe we could have one more
person to join us . . . and then we'll be out of food." Blessed
are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . You are
blessed and God will supply all that is needed and give you more.
Do not be afraid to offer what little you have -- but do not feel
that you must give, and then develop a bad spirit about it either.
Give what you can give with joy, let this be your guide.
"Lord I have been schooled in agriculture", or "Lord I
understand about computers," or "Lord I have training as a nurse,"
or Lord I can teach the stories of the Bible to children, -- I can
The gifts of knowledge and understanding will bless others
beyond measure . . . . Ask Jesus to bless you and those who you
may share your learning with and God will supply the increase --
far beyond that which any one of us can imagine. This is the
meaning of Jesus' multiplying the loaves and the fishes that day.
We have only to offer to Christ what little we might have
available. He will supply the blessing and he will make the
So go forth this day with faith dear friends. The Lord is with
you and he will bless you and those for whom you intend to bless.
. . . Thanks be to God!!!
P.S. If you live in the Emmitsburg area, I extend a special
invitation to you to come and join our congregation at Elias. We
are a church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Our
worship is in the liturgical style – just follow the bulletin
carefully and you'll keep up, eventually we all grow to love our
familiar hymnody, prayers and creeds. As a historic church we have
a kind of congregational culture, this also is used of God to
create an atmosphere of family. Please come and join us! – P.J.