Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that the people may eat?” This he said to test him… John 6:5-6
…Jesus clearly was not fazed by the crowd, but deliberately focused on the fact that “there was much grass in the place.” It allowed the people to sit down in congenial groups, sharing a sense of confidence that things were under control. Philip’s panic shrank when Jesus asked him to “divide” the multitude.
Actually, we are not being asked to pull off spectacular feats of multiplication. What if the Lord had us simply scrutinize the meager contents of the little kid’s lunch box? The “fragments” from those barley loaves had overflowed into twelve baskets of leftovers. We all possess right now the equivalent of such “scanty food” – the essence of individual insignificance when measured against large pressing needs. Ironically, we can hoard our insignificance as sinfully as an eccentric miser hoards his wealth!
If we insist on managing our modest resources until we feel there is safety in numbers, we might hold Christ and the God-hungry at bay forever. Do we watch jealously over them because we lust for that glut of satisfaction that the five thousand experienced? Barley was an inferior grain. Jesus was not fishing for superior wheat “fragments.”
(Part 2 of 2)
Comment: How those were kept fresh without Ziploc bags is anybody’s guess. The odd thing is that I, for one, still have a math problem. Jesus multiplied and Philip divided. I can’t help but mentally jump ahead to an O.T. barley story where subtraction adds tension to the theme of “no can do.” It’s about Gideon in Judges 6, whose lackluster credentials and crushing circumstances forced him to thresh wheat, the superior grain, in a wine press. Still, his self-proclaimed insignificance takes a drastic turn, precisely when Gideon’s reputation is mockingly disclosed as that of a “loaf of barley.” I was not raised on smelly fish, but sensational freshly baked bread. If that gets subtracted from my diet, I’m retreating into a Whine press