8th November 2021

Point away

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people.
Luke 9:16 (NIV)

The story here is the famous one of the feeding of the 5000, which can be found in the three Synoptic Gospels, and also in John.

In this story, Jesus has been performing healing miracles, attracting a great crowd who follow him into a ‘desert place’. Jesus receives them, speaking to them about the kingdom of God and performing more healing to those in need. Late in the afternoon, the disciples suggest that Jesus sends them away into the towns and countryside, where they’ll be better placed to find lodgings, rest, and sustenance. Jesus, however, tells the disciples that they should give them something to eat – but the disciples have only five loaves and two fishes.

I don’t want to go over the full story, I want to focus on some of the meaning of the interactions found in verse 16.

Jesus, right here in this verse, gives his disciples a number of very important aspects of ‘grace in action’. He has them bear witness, participate, and be involved. These are examples of ‘obligations of grace’. It benefits us to look at verse 16 closely.

You see, turning ‘the little’ into ‘the much’ that feeds the 5000 is something only Jesus himself does, or can do. But look carefully at the verse; Jesus ensured he gave the disciples the food to distribute. Jesus offered the disciples the opportunity of witnessing, involvement, participation. He had them distribute the food; the disciples bore witness, got involved, and participated in what he had already done.

We can follow this example in our lives, as we participate with Jesus in spreading the Gospel and doing good stuff – the ‘obligations of grace’. Just as the disciples took the food (that Jesus provided, miraculously) and in exchange got to share in what Jesus had done, so we do the same in our witnessing (actions of grace) in our day to day lives, in participatory exchange.

Ultimately, this story shows us another way we can follow the disciples – they pointed away from themselves, and towards Jesus! This thought can be our compass. The account in John 6, verse 14, comes towards its end in stating, ‘After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” ’

The crowd didn’t say ‘those disciples are pretty handy when you’re in a tight spot, aren’t they?!’ The disciples pointed the crowd towards the truth in Jesus – and the crowd saw that Jesus was the truth. So let’s follow that clear example: take joy in participating, and point back at the one who has offered us the participation – Jesus.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the immense truth of your Son Jesus. In His name, Amen

Study by Andrew Montgomery

 

About the writer:
Andrew Montgomery is a Deacon in the Edinburgh congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local congregation:
GCI Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
Edinburgh
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local congregational contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

Word of Life contact:
wordoflife@gracecom.church