John 6:1-24 (NRSV)
Feeding the Five Thousand
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.
5When 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?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.
7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
8One 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?”
The key to interpreting this incident lies with the word “small.” There are at least three possibilities:
- “Small” refers not to the fish, but to the lad. There is, unfortunately, little textual evidence for this approach.
- “Small,” being a relative term, refers to the fish which, though large by some standards, would be considered small indeed compared to, say, a blue whale.
- “Small” refers not to the relative size of the fish but to their number — two.
Note: For each of these explanations, there remain a few unsolved logistical problems concerning the transportation of the lad’s lunch.
10Jesus 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. 11Then 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. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
Jesus is so calm and orderly. People are settled down before the food starts going out. Leftovers were picked up, and the picnic spot was left as clean as they found it.
14When 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.”
15When 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.
Jesus Walks on the Water
16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.
In Matthew’s account of the story of Jesus walking on the water, Peter asks if he can walk on water, too. Jesus tells him, “Come.”
Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be healed?”
Can you tell God what you want, and trust God for it, even though it seems beyond you? Then come.
HERE is Britt Nicole singing “Walk on the Water.”
22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
1) How do we, like Philip, limit what God can do in, for, and through us by assuming what is and is not possible? Where in your own prayers are you — unintentionally! — holding God to your estimate of what can be done?
2) Are these stories helping you trust God more? Are they helping you see more in your life for which to praise and thank God?
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.