John 6:1-21: Bread

John 6.1-21

Like much of the world in this Olympic year, I’m gearing up for a couple of weeks of broken sleep, when too much sport is never enough. Winners are grinners, but I wonder why every commentary I’ve read makes the point that the Miracle of the Feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in all Four Gospels.

It’s as if the more times a miracle is recorded across the Gospels, the more we need to take notice. Why? Isn’t just one recorded miracle enough any more?

Have I missed something? Sure, I can see the point that a miracle is emphasised by repetition but why? Are we now at a point where we are grading miracles as if they’re in an Olympic pre-selection trial? That the Gold Medal goes to the one that appears in all 4 Gospels?

I would have thought that any miracle is worth a look, whether or not it appears in multiple places, wouldn’t you?

On the other hand, instead of observing the number of repetitions – as if we are in some theological sporting contest – maybe I should concentrate on the content of the Miracle.

Let’s first be mindful of this, though: the Gospel Readings for the next five weeks are from John 6. What this means is that, over that time-frame, there will be lots of references to bread and how it comes from above and stuff like that. A test of ingenuity approaches, methinks.

There is one significant difference between the version of the Miracle that we’re reading today and the ones found in the other Gospels: John calls his version a sign (it’s a sign, it’s a sign) and therefore not simply about satisfying people’s empty tummies.

Here, the reader is going to discover something about Jesus and something about God at the same time, Two-for-One style. What that is, of course, is that Jesus can and does satisfy every one of our needs.

Jesus is way more than a heavenly baker or Brumby’s owner. He’s way more than a Baker’s Delight franchisee and he’s certainly not just trying to drum up business for the local welfare food outlet.

The punters don’t seem to get on board with this idea at all – and haven’t done since Jesus did the water-into-wine thing back in Chapter 2. They want more tucker, more grappa, more healings, more whatever.

Some time ago, My Beloved and I were at an Investment Seminar and someone asked the presenter this question: How much money do I need to be happy? The man answered with tongue in cheek: about 10% more than you get already.

We are so convinced that material possessions will make us happy – and just a bit more will make us even more happy – that we miss the point of this miracle yet again. More may be what we want, but is it needed?

Have a look in my bathroom if you still don’t believe me. Although My Beloved banned me long ago from doing the weekly shopping with her, I do go to the supermarket by myself sometimes.

Do I take a list? No. Do I know what I’m going to buy? No. Do I end up with a drawer full of traveller’s-sized toothpaste and facial wipes? You bet. Have I got enough? I fear that I will run out.

The real miracle is surely not about whether my Superannuation account will be sufficient to retire on, or whether I will run out of facial wipes.

The real miracle for the lilies and the birds and the crowds and the people like us is this: today, Jesus addresses and satisfies both our deficiencies and our poverty. He is all we need.

The Rev. Ian McAlister is the Ministry Development Officer in the Diocese of Queensland and blogs at Reflections from the HIll

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