2 Samuel 11:1-15; Psalm 14; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21
This morning we revisit the very familiar Gospel reading of Jesus “feeding the five thousand.” This, in fact, is the only miracle story that appears in all four Gospels, giving it a reinforced authority and significance. For many of us, it was one of the stories that first captured our imagination in Sunday school. As youngsters, we might consider the “facts” of the story, and attempt to reason and determine exactly how Jesus was able to multiply food! Could this really be done, or are we to accept it as a fantastic biblical “magic trick?”
With insight and understanding, this seemingly impossible event is less important as a miracle and more meaningful as a sign – a visible manifestation of God’s abundance and generosity. The “feeding” also contains several Eucharistic themes – the occurrence near Passover, the “people were satisfied,” “nothing was wasted” and Jesus blessed and gave thanks over the food. All this gives a mystical foreshadowing of what was to come at the Last Supper.
But how did they end up with more food than when they started? A few years ago, a friend of mine at Grace speculated that in the generous act of providing food for the large crowd, Jesus opened the hearts of many to share the food that they may have brought with them, exponentially increasing the loaves and fishes – a theory I’d not considered.
There is a marvelous proverb in Sweden known as the “lagom.” It means “the perfect, balanced amount” or that, “enough is as good as a banquet.” Acts of generosity give others the permission and impetus to share in ways wildly unexpected. Jesus knew what would happen when he asked Peter, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” What resulted was the humble, surprising and miraculous fulfilling of all present, with “leftovers,” that were not wasted – the very definition of lagom, the very nature of Jesus. God’s banquet indeed.
Jeff Clark was a parishioner at Grace during his time in San Francisco and began his EfM studies here in 2007. He lives in Newport, Rhode Island.