Making Much of Little

Life Notes—March 8, 2012

“Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.  When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’  So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.”   John 6:11-13 

Many of us heard the story of the loaves and fishes when we were young.  Jesus, with his disciples and a very large group of followers, says, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” knowing they did not have the money to buy that much food.  A boy offers his five barley loaves and two fish.  Jesus blesses the food and the disciples distribute it to the crowd.  The crowd of about five thousand eats until “they were satisfied,” and the disciples gather the left over food—filling twelve baskets. 

Either Jesus multiplied the available food in a miraculous way or the crowd was not very hungry.  Obviously, the first explanation is the point of the story.  And I do not doubt Jesus’ ability to multiply a small amount of food to an amount sufficient to satisfy a mob, but I also do not believe that is the entire story.  Another angle, one painfully evident today, has to do with what is required to be satisfied and its relationship to faith. 

I have visitedEastern Europetwice, and both times I was amazed at the relatively small houses, yards and cars.  InAmerica, many of us would feel cramped beyond tolerance.  Where would we keep all our stuff?  We had an exchange student for most of a year who grew up with her parents in a 3-room apartment.  Somehow, she not only lived in those restricted conditions, she actually lived happily!  How was that possible?  Deep in the woods to the east of our house are the remains of a tar-paper shack from long ago.  Its entire square footage is roughly equal to the smallest bedroom in our house.  I know whoever lived there had children as the surrounding ground is littered with rusting bicycle remnants and other toys.  How could they have lived like that? 

Of course the real question is how have we come to live as we do today?  Some weeks I throw away more uneaten food than I ate in several days as a bachelor.  When did we come to need so much?  And how can we be so dissatisfied with our abundance?  Jesus faithfully made much of little, and a large crowd was satisfied.  Faith and satisfaction are related. What will it take for Jesus to satisfy us today?  Hint: some faith required… 

This Sunday is the third of Lent.  Tom’s sermon downtown is “The Power of Many, based on John 6:1-14. Life worship begins at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.   Mitch’s sermon at the west campus is “The Power of One,” based on John 4:1-42.  West campus worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday. Are you satisfied with your life?  Church can help.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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