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A Little Boy's Lunch

John 6:1-21

The Rev. Jon Roberts

25 July

2021

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 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. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 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. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

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Feeding the Five Thousand by Jose Ignacio Fletes Cruz, 2004-2021

Seeing they were hungry, Jesus had more than a hunch. If they truly wanted to be fed, they would need to learn how to share their lunch.[1]

About five years ago, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Josette Duran did not expect the amount of responses from a personal story she shared on her facebook page that went viral. Her son, Dylan was in First grade. Every day she packed his lunch and waited with him at the bus stop to go to school. Just a month after school started he made a request that made her curious. “Mom, from now on can you make me two lunches for me to take?” Worried she wasn’t feeding him enough, he quickly put these concerns to rest. “Mom, it’s for this boy. He only eats a fruit cup for lunch. Can you make him a lunch too? I don’t think he has any lunch money.” Josette made extra sandwiches, yogurt and chips for two months. When the mother of the other boy found out, she inquired with the school how her son was being fed and when she learned, she wanted to thank Josette. Of course, she refused any offering of payment or service to offset as it was a freewill offering from one parent to another. [2]

There were so many responses to this story that many adults chimed in. They were recipients themselves of that level of generosity, remaining good friends for years after with those who showed kindness and mercy. It’s amazing what happens when we follow our hearts and we have a hunch. It is wonderful to know we can make a difference, even if it just requires something like sharing our lunch.
Sharing food has been around for countless years. National Geographic ran a story about an ancient hearth, a fireplace, unearthed near Tel Aviv that is suspected to be 300,000 years old.[3] There, they had evidence where diners came to eat together. In the ashes of volcano Vesuvius, intact remains of a circular loaf of bread with scoring marks, baked for breaking and sharing was found. Food was and is, more than a necessity for survival. It is a way in which we build relationships. “We make friends, court lovers and count our blessings.”

We know that people came together to eat, and to share but we often wonder about the details in which they were prepared. Especially when there may have been large crowds, many who may have come poor and without food themselves. Somebody had to hunt or shop for the food. Somebody had to plan out the meal and finding helpers to distribute.

There are now several thousand DIY (Do-It-Yourself) videos on how to create easy and affordable lunches on the go. However, I could not find one on how to do so effectively or affordably for over a hundred or a thousand people. There simply are none of these resources available. In the Gospel story today, we wonder how Jesus did it on so little.[4] Five loaves and two fishes? He would have to have more than a hunch. He needed to serve five thousand people for lunch! Can you blame the disciples for wanting to send all the people away? They were like, “Let’s get out of here fast. We can’t feed these folks and when we fail to do so, people are going to think twice. That you are not who you say you are. The miracle worker.” Aside from Jesus, who steals the show? There was this little boy with five loaves of barley bread and two fish. Do you suppose his mother knew what he was going to go into that day, or wonder why her son took that much bread and those fish? Maybe he had a good momma, who said, “You go share this with somebody who needs it.”

Many pastors, all around the world are going to present this story as a miracle in that Jesus compelled this boy, and so many others to follow suit, to share out of being generous. That is certainly possible, and wonderful. It is a beautiful thing to watch, but don’t rule out the power of God to do the unexplainable and create out of nothing. Those baskets passed through the crowds in a mystical union, blessed by Jesus, whereas God multiplied the lot. God can do that. God does that. Don’t rule that out. Maybe it was a mixture of both. God’s divinity and God’s humanity baked into the ingredients of his creation that day. The miracle that so many people who were hungry, came to eat and were satisfied. They all sat down on that green grass which makes us suspect it was a time in the spring. As they were there in the spring, the harvest had yet to arrive so food was probably scarce after a long winter. I believe Jesus had more than a hunch that day. I believe he knew that boy was going to show up and share that lunch. What the people did not know is that God was there. He showed up to make the miraculous happen.

This is a story about giving but I would be remiss if I did not share the other story coupled here today, about taking.[5] It is also coupled to a warning in the story of David who succumbs to adultery when he sees Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite and send him to the frontlines to be killed in battle. David knew all about giving and making sacrifices but he fell to a mighty temptation and took from those who had little. One little boy has little and gives to all, the other grows up to have more and takes all. Woe to those who take because they have so much. The people who came to Jesus were agonizing over their lives where everything was taken. Taxed, persecuted, deprived of their freedom, hungry and thirsty, they came to find help in the Lord. They came searching for the freedom God gives every human being, even in the midst of their poverty. Every human being deserves that, and Jesus delivers. Just come to me. We have this little boy David, who grows up and everything is given to him. The entire kingdom of Israel belongs to him. He has a wife, along with others. Why would he take from Uriah the Hittite, his only wife, Bathsheba and commit the sinful act of adultery. He had so much. This is where God is giving us a warning sign. To those who have so much, they begin to think they deserve to have more. That was not the type of person who came out to find Jesus. That person will starve because they no longer see God as the provider and sustainer. David took from one who had so little. This is one of the worst things you can do in the eyes of God. The prophet Nathan reminded him that he took from, “the least of these.” Jesus shared compassion with those people because he knew so much had been taken from them.

When we come to church, in the breaking of the bread it is a retelling, re-giving of the real presence where Christ meets each of us in our depravity; in places where we feel so much has been lost or taken. He says to us, “I want to feed you and fill you with good things.” He knows your heart. He knows where you have been. He wants you, he desires for you to come forward and to be fed. Within this event we find the formation of the Church. We share with what we have with one another and we allow for God to replenish us.

Jesus sees all of you who are hungry and trust me, he has so much more than a hunch. For he knows that for each of us to be fed on this day, he will need to show you how he shares his lunch.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] https://www.upworthy.com/after-a-story-about-a-boy-bringing-lunch-for-his-classmate-went-viral-reddit-responded Oct. 19, 2016 Reddit
[3] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/joy-of-food/
[4] John 6:1-21
[5] 2 Samuel 11:1-15

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