Weekly Bible Notes, Sunday 6 August 2000
(17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B)
Verse of scripture
All you have made will praise you, O Lord, your saints will extol you. Ps 145 v 10
The Lord is near all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. Ps 145 v 18
2 Kings Chapter 4 v 42 - 44
A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe corn, along with some ears of new corn. "Give it to the people to eat," Elisha said. "How can I set this before a hundred men?" his servant asked. But Elisha answered, "Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: 'They will eat and have some left over.' " Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.
John Chapter 6 v 1 - 21
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. Collect Gracious God, Your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of life and the word of your Kingdom. Renew Your people with Your heavenly grace and in all our weakness sustain us by Your true and living bread, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Feeding of Multitudes
Given that feeding many people form scarce resources is an incredible happening its not surprising that we have multiple accounts of this type of events, including the one from 2 Kings. The verses that precede our reading from 2 Kings record that 'there was a famine in that region' and that under Elisha the people had tried to cook something for themselves from herbs and wild vegetation with near disastrous results. In the reading from John, a great number of people had followed Jesus as a result of the miracles he was performing. They were hungry for His teaching and the new life that it offered. In one sense we could also say that 'there was a famine in that region'. The people had tried to cook up something for themselves and had failed. Jesus teases the disciples and asks where will all the food come from to feed the people sitting in front of them. To which they reply with the equivalent of, '…a whole truck load of food from Tesco's or Sainsbury's wouldn't feed this lot... … all we've got between us is a small rice and pasta salad and a diet yoghurt'. It's perhaps easy then to interpret these passages as an indication of God providing for our material needs. When all seems lost we need to trust to Him for our provision. What we have to offer is so meagre in comparison to the riches he offers, and so freely gives out of the abundance of his riches in glory. And there is a sense in which this interpretation is true. We all know of occasions where God has indeed provided for His people in a very real, physical manner, perhaps through gifts of money through faithful Christians or in many other ways. Our partnership buildings are testimony to God's provision to us, through His grace and the hard work and efforts of many of His people working in tandem with Him. God does provide for us, but perhaps the key to these passages is to see that we need to understand that God's provision for us is both physical and spiritual. The gospel writer John, of all the gospel writers, especially weaves this theme into His writings several times. Think of the wedding at Cana, the Master of Ceremonies did not know from where the good wine had come. The woman at the well in Samaria did not know from where the living water would come. In the gospel reading from John, Philip does not know where on earth he's going to find the food for the many thousands of people who are gathered on the hillside and who want feeding. But in each of these situations the pattern is the same. And so is the result. At Cana, at Samaria and now here on the hillside, all that the people have, the stuff of their everyday life, is taken and offered to God. Water, the woman's humanity, bread, and fish are all given thanks for, and offered up to God, to be received by Him and exposed to His touch. He is not constrained by the physical rules of nature, He can even walk on water. But in being exposed to Him, everything, even nature itself, is transformed into something more than anyone ever expected. Just as the more we expose ourselves and all that we have to Him, there more we, and it, is transformed into something beyond even our wildest dreams.
Prayers for Sunday
Prayers for Sunday and the Week Ahead
Almighty God, in all the business of life, help us to be still in your presence, that we may know ourselves to be your people and you to be our God. Amen Heavenly Father, you taught us by your Son Jesus Christ that all our possessions come from you. Help us to be faithful stewards of our time, our talents and our wealth, and to consecrate gladly to your service a due proportion of all that you have given us. Take us and make us your own, for Jesus Christ sake. Amen Almighty God, as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son, help us to see and know your love for us, so that in humility, love and joy we may place at His feet all that we have and all that we are and all that we will be, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen May our Lord Jesus Christ be near us to defend us, within us to refresh us, around us to preserve us, before us to guide us, and above us to bless us; with the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with us now, in the week ahead, and for ever. Amen
Collect Prayer for the Day
Gracious God, Your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of life and the word of your Kingdom. Renew Your people with Your heavenly grace and in all our weakness sustain us by Your true and living bread, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen