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?”
He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”
2020 has been a season of varying limitations. We have had limited contact with one another, limited worship, limited shopping, limited outings, and as I write this, we have limited knowledge of our next President of the United States the day after the election. For many that has brought on limited patience, limited strength, and limited hope for the days ahead.
Our reading today gives us a different perspective in regard to limitations. Jesus comes to this event “pre-prayered” for action for He already had in mind what He was going to do. He asks Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip looks at the problem with the eyes of his face and sees the limitation and responds with emphatic logic, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” spoke up, with this idea “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Andrew, however, is flummoxed. How can they make this seemingly impossible reality possible?
But take another look at that verse. “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” This is an important pronoun because it indicates that Jesus, their LORD and Savior and their God, is with them. He is not saying to the disciples, “Where shall you buy” or “Where shall I buy?” He is reminding them that He is in the problem with them and He is the solution.
But their faith is weak, and the eyes of their face have locked them into human limitations. So, Jesus, the Bread of Life, multiplies the fish and loaves giving what was needed and abundantly. Those who came to hear the Words of life and salvation from the One Who saves were fed spiritually and physically, blessed and satisfied. There were even left-over blessings yet to be had, in those 12 baskets.
And so it is with us. The LORD already knows what He is going to do, and He calls us to look beyond our human limitations to see what is before us with the eyes of faith and not the limiting eyes of our face. He has lifted the mantle of all limitations by His work on the cross. He is with us to the end of the age and calls us to trust in Him with all our heart and not to lean on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledge Him. He will direct our path.
So, like Philip and Andrew, in this and all seasons of our lives we will experience tests of faith, patience and endurance so that our faith can see beyond the human limitations and feast on His abundant promises secured in our Baptism.
Gracious Father, Thank you for Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, who overcame for us our greatest limitation, sin, and conquered it on the cross. Thank You for Your promise to always be with us. Keep our eyes fixed on You equipped through Word and Sacrament and by the power of the Holy Spirit as we go out into the world to be Your light to others. In our Savior’s precious Name, AMEN
Conni Schramm, Crean Lutheran High School, Irvine, CA