With the title “Not Enough/More Than Enough” it would seem that the sermon would look at a reversal of fortunes. And it could go there. But other thoughts emerged in looking at this passage—in particular, in looking at the two disciples whom we hear speak, Philip and Andrew.
Philip and Andrew are different people, obviously, but by this I mean that each has a different reaction to the situation. A huge crowd has gathered—5000 or so people—and Jesus wonders out loud how they are going to feed that many people. Philip has one response, and Andrew has another response. Both responses are important, but they are very different.
Philip sizes up the crowd, determines approximately how many people it is, how much food that many people would need for a meal, calculates what the cost of that much food would be, and then translates that calculation into information that is clear and understandable to someone whose brain doesn’t work just like his does. This involves a way of looking at a situation that is analytical in nature, a skill set that can rapidly calculate needed information based on experience and retained information, and the ability to simplify the explanation. We need people like this.
Andrew, on the other hand, makes the “people” connection, and more than just at a surface, superficial level. He has already found a boy who has food—not a lot of food, but clearly more than the boy’s own personal lunch for the day. He has established enough of a relationship with this boy in a short period of time that he’s been able to convince the boy that his food can help in this situation to help solve their dilemma. Think about that. It’s likely that this boy had been sent to buy food for his family, since five loaves and two fish are not a Jimmy John’s drive-through sandwich lunch, and being able to convince him to donate his family’s food for the week clearly involves engendering trust with him. We need people like this, too.
And Jesus makes use of this combination of their skills and ways of looking at the world to feed 5000 people with those five loaves and two fish—and with twelve baskets of leftovers collected after all have eaten. With Jesus blessing it, there is always more than enough to meet the needs. But the unique contributions that Philip and Andrew make to the whole enterprise need to be noted.
We need people like Philip. And we need people like Andrew. We need people with complementary skills, and with different ways of looking at a situation. Everyone has a contribution to make to the unfolding of the divine drama, and no role is insignificant. We need to celebrate that all of these skill sets, and all of these ways of seeing the world, are important, and needed, and not to be disregarded. Our world needs them; our church needs them. Our own lives need them. And with all of them, in Jesus there is always more than enough.
GOSPEL John 6:1-14
1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ 10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.11 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. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’