Scripture: John 6:1-15
Key verse: (5) “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”
Reflection: When’s the last time you took a test? The last test I remember taking was for my North Carolina Driver’s License. When’s the last time you took a test? When is the last time you felt the anxiety of a test question? In our reading for the morning from John, Jesus poses a test question to Philip. Faced with a crowd of 5,000 hungry people, Jesus asks, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” John tells us, “He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.”
Philip’s answer? “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
It is a practical answer. It’s the answer most people would give. To put that in contemporary terms, according to the Social Security Administration, the median wage of an American worker in 2016 was $30,557. So six month’s wages would be $15,276. Spread across 5,000 men, that would be $3.06 per person. While that could certainly provide a basic meal, it’s not enough for the $5 meal deal at KFC, or even the 4 for $4 at Wendy’s. And Galilean fishermen likely earned less than the median wage of their day, so Philip offers a practical answer.
Unfortunately, it’s the wrong answer from Jesus’ perspective. For Jesus, “We don’t have enough,” is never the right answer. So what’s the right answer? In our reading, the right answer begins to be discovered when a child looks not at what he lacks, but at what he has. What does he have? Five barley loaves and a couple of fish. These loaves were likely more like dinner rolls. The fish were likely a couple of salted tilapia. Suffice to say, it wasn’t much, but he offered what he had. He didn’t wonder, “If I give this away, what will I eat?” He did not think, “What are five rolls and a couple of fish in the face of so much need?” He offered what he had to meet the need he saw.
There is so much need in our world. What if we think of this need as a test of faith? It can be so tempting to join the disciples in answering the test by saying, “We don’t have enough.” What would it mean to consider not what we lack, but what we have? What would it mean to offer what we have—our time, our talents, our treasure, ourselves—and see what Christ can do with it? By so doing, we just may get a taste of God’s kingdom.
Prayer: Thank you for the gift of life, O Lord. In the midst of the needs I encounter today, help me consider not what I lack, but what I have. Then give me the faith to offer it in service to your work in the world. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].