September 12, 2019 was the start of my “Thought for the Day” posts. March 16, 2022 was the last time I posted a “Thought for the Day.” After thirty straight months of posting nearly five postings per week, I was in need of a little break. Today will mark their return. Thanks for your patience with my need to take a break!
I will resume where we left off with a stroll through the Gospel of John.
“1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 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 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread 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 among so many people?” 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. 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. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 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. 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.”
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.” NRSV
The “feeding of the five thousand” is the only miracle of Jesus to appear in all four gospels. Many people are often taken aback when they discover this fact. It raises the question about what gives this miracle of Jesus such an exalted place?
There is no definitive answer to that question, so we are left to draw our own conclusions. Here some of the things that speak to me:
- This is not a targeted miracle. No one is named or singled out as in most of the other miracles. That means everyone, regardless of nationality, religious preference (or no religion), men, women, children, rich, poor, scoundrels and saints were included in the grace that flowed from the miracle. All were abundantly fed. No one had to prove their worthiness to be part of the feast. That was almost unheard of in Jesus’ day. A quick review of the meal stories in the gospels makes clear one needed the right the “credentials” to be present. This miracle makes abundantly clear that Jesus’ salvation was universal, not sectarian. He died and rose for everyone.
- It’s a miracle that promotes the common welfare of the people. When Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep” in John 21:15-19, Jesus had already defined the scope of that command to Peter here in this miracle story. That command extends to all who follow Jesus.
- While one could parse this ad infinitum, the final point I would want to make is that because of its universal nature, its inclusive message, it is the one miracle in all four gospels that would touch the hearts and minds of all who heard it because there was room “at the table” on that grassy knoll for everyone.
What different conclusions would draw about the privileged place of this miracle?
Be a blessing to someone today!