Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Moms in the Bible Part 1: Bread and Fish

John 6
English Standard Version (ESV)
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

6 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5  Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7  Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii[a] worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then 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. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

Have you read this story?  I’m guessing even if you don’t attend church regularly you have probably heard of the bread and fish thing.  It’s as common in Christian culture as church potlucks and WWJD bracelets.  I think sometimes we get desensitized to the stories we heard in Sunday school.  Same old, same old.  But wait, in this story Jesus takes five barley loves and two fish and feeds 5 thousand people!  It’s striking to me that Jesus could take something so small and use it to make a miracle.  I’m guessing that in that huge crowd there must have been others who packed a lunch.  Maybe even some who had more food than the boy?  But only the boy came forward to present his meager offering to the Messiah.  Perhaps the others looked at what little they had to offer and the gravity of the need and decided they could make no difference.  When I was helping at a Vacation Bible School, there was a lyric to a song we sang that made me cry almost every time.  (I know, embarrassing). It was about this story from the perspective of the child who says, “I’m sorry that there’s not more there,” after giving his little lunch.  And then (according to the sweet song) “Jesus just smiled, ‘I thank you my child.’”  I so often feel like that little boy.  Like, "Here’s what I have to offer Jesus, I wish it was more.  I wish it was grander than some bread and a couple of sardines."  I think Jesus smiles because he is pleased that we offer him whatever we have.  And also because Jesus knows that God can multiply our tiny offering and make a miracle with it. 

What does this have to do with Moms?  I think there is an unsung hero in the story.  The boy gets very little credit.  Of the many versions of this story throughout the gospels, he only shows up in one and is only referred to as “the boy.”  If I had to guess I would say there is someone involved who wasn’t even mentioned:  his mom.  Maybe it’s a stretch but if that boy is anything like kids or teenagers of today I’m guessing he didn’t think to pack his own lunch.  I’m guessing that his mama thoughtfully provided him with a meal.  So here she was just lovingly serving her son, the same way she always did, and Jesus used it to meet so many people’s needs—to make a miracle.  Let’s be real, who’s the one that taught him to be generous anyway?  Finally, all those times of forcing him to share, and sharing all that she had with him paid off.  The day after the miracle, Jesus uses the bread to share the gospel with these people, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’“  So many people were cared for, got to witness a miracle, and heard the gospel of Christ in part because the little boy’s mom was doing her job--and doing it well.      

Have you ever felt like you didn't have enough to offer?  What small acts of service has your mama done that have made a big difference?

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