Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone. (John 6:1-15 NAB)
Imagine you are young boy in the midst of a huge crowd and someone comes up to you and says he wants your lunch. What do you think? What do you do? But suppose that person says, “Jesus wants your lunch? What do you do? Would you give him your whole lunch? Does it make you happy to give your lunch to Jesus?
In this gospel we meet one of those unnamed characters whose response to Jesus changes the world. Up until this moment in Jesus’ ministry, the crowds have been growing. They are excited about Jesus, but they have been wondering about him. “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:14) But this little boy gives everything he has to Jesus, and that act becomes the catalyst for a miracle that changes everything. Suddenly, everyone knows Jesus is the Messiah. They actually say, “Surely this is the Prophet.”
We need to back up and explain that phrase. The title “The Prophet” as opposed to “one of the prophets” refers to a specific prophecy attributed to Moses. “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18) By Jesus’ time this prophecy was understood as referring to the Messiah. That a prophet as great or even greater than Moses would come and teach the truth of God with authority.
Recognizing Jesus as The Prophet, The New Moses, The Messiah, the Second David, the crowd presses to make Jesus king, if necessary against his will. But Jesus will have none of it, because he has already exercised his kingly authority. They just didn’t recognize it.
When the young boy cheerfully gave all he had to Jesus, Jesus took the bread in his hands. He lifted the loaves up to heaven. He gave thanks “eucharist”. He broke the bread. He gave it to his disciples, and instructed them to feed the multitude. Before the Last Supper, Jesus has instituted the Eucharist in the context of hungry people going about their daily lives.
Jesus doesn’t need to be made king. He is King, not just in church, but in our daily needs and hungers.
You may be thinking, “That doesn’t sound like my life. I seem to experience a lot of needs and hungers, but not much of Jesus being King. Of him multiplying my meagerness. Of Jesus filling me to overflowing until there are 12 baskets left over.” Then the Holy Spirit is saying to you, “Cheerfully give Jesus everything you have.”
The young boy joyfully gave Jesus everything he had. “Take it all, Jesus. I’ll be okay.” And the miracle happened.
What hunger do you have in your life? Jesus wants to satisfy that hunger. With joy and cheer, give Jesus everything, and the miracle will happen.