John 6:4 - John 8:43
They had come for different reasons.
Some sought healing and filled with anticipation, they came. Now, cautiously hoping, they watched the humble man moving through the crowd. With faith stirring in their souls they waited for the opportunity to petition at the feet of Him who offered miracles.
Some came with a desire to know something of this man who taught in parables, who spoke of their traditions in unexpected ways. These had come longing to hear more, to gain an understanding from Him who offered answers.
And then there were those who were aching with a sorrow that was fresh and deep. They had lost their shepherd, and now searched for another to lead them. Here was one who seemed to continue where John had left off. And so with trepidation they came, clinging to shattered memories, to learn at the feet of Him who offered comfort.
Hours passed, and still they remained. Even as the sun began to set they were drawn to Him, drawn to what He offered, drawn to The Giver.
He had known they would come, just as He knew what He was about to do.
The Giver walked among them with patience and compassion, to teach them many things, (Mark 6:34) and to heal them that had need of healing. (Luke 9:11)
Finally, when the day was far spent, He turned to His disciples asking, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5)
The unexpected question came as a surprise.
The small group traveled with little provisions and money was scarce. Even if the men were to offer everything they had, it would not be enough.
The obvious solution was to dismiss the multitude and allow them to return to the village to find food and shelter. But this was not what The Giver had asked of them. And so they gathered to converse.
What did they have to offer?
What He asked would require sacrifice. They would have to give of their own.
And so it was that one of the disciples turned to the young lad.
The boy had followed behind them all day carrying a small basket containing what was to have been their supper.
They were not accustomed to fine meals, and had learned to get by with the very humblest of provisions.
This morning, what little money they carried with them was used to purchase the poorest of breads, five barley loaves.
There had been enough left over to purchase two small, salted fish, commonly sold along the shores of Galilee.
It was hardly enough for them, and the disciple could not help but ask, what are they among so many?
Carefully the lad made his way though the crowd to the place where The Giver sat.
He placed the basket at His feet, and knelt down to watch the event that was about to unfold.
The lad found himself in awe of these men he traveled with, for no matter what The Giver asked, His disciples did not hesitate to obey.
Even now, he watched as they gathered the people into groups to prepare for the meal.
Somehow these men had set aside their doubt, but still he could not help but wonder from whence the meal would come.
Finally the disciples returned.
The lad looked out across the great company of men, women and children who sat scattered across the green grass. There were well over 5,000 people patiently watching The Giver who had laid out the meager provisions at His feet.
The lad would not forget what happened next, for The Giver took the bread and gave thanks. Such gratitude for this simplest of provisions surprised the boy. And then, breaking it into pieces, He began to hand the bread to His disciples and they, in turn, gave to the multitude, one by one, until each had received.
…not just one piece of bread and one piece of fish for each person…. the people ate until they were filled, as much as they would, even the small lad.
And when the meal was finished, The Giver asked His disciples to gather what remained. Even now, the miracle of it all, the gift, was beyond understanding.
Twelve disciples. Twelve wicker baskets, filled to overflowing. Enough, and some to spare. Abundance.
I love so many parts of this scripture story, but there is one lesson that stands out over and above any other…
For just a moment consider all of the pieces in this story.
Gathered on that hill above Galilee were over 5,000 people, 12 disciples, 5 loaves of barely bread, 2 fishes, and 1 small lad.
Everything that was required for the miracle was in place. But the miracle would not have happened if the Savior had not come.
The same is true in our own lives. All of the pieces may be in place, but we must invite the Savior to be a part of our life for the miracles to come.
It is what He knows best. The principle of promise. The underlying theme of His life.
It is the tender behind the mercy. The unconditional behind the love. The height, breadth and depth behind the understanding.
It has never been otherwise and remains true today.
And so, when weary souls long for the abundant life, it is to One source they must turn.
For He is known now just as He was known in times of old.
He is The Giver of every good gift.
(Many of you have emailed this morning to ask about the images in this blog. They were painted by Simon Dewey for the book, The Promise of Enough)