Have you ever noticed it’s not always what people say that makes an impact but what they don’t say? Some may call it reading between the lines, but often what’s not spoken can give perspective and context to what is spoken.
Jesus is a Master at this…
Last Sunday morning I read John 6, which is such a familiar passage to me I almost skipped over it all together. It’s one the kids have dressed up and reenacted with picnic baskets, red tablecloths, furry beanie babies and colorful plastic food. It’s the story of Jesus feeding the 5 thousand.
Scripture tells me that the words contained in Genesis through Revelation are living words. They are inspired words from God. If they weren’t, they’d be like a book on the bookshelf – a story I’ve already read and don’t really want to read again because I know what’s going to happen next. But the Bible isn’t like that to me. It’s like a fresh water stream. Each time I read, I see a new perspective, a new detail and it’s fresh information again!
That’s what happened to me with this “children’s” story. All of a sudden I didn’t just see the characters interacting with one another and the lines I almost have memorized. I saw Jesus interacting with people He cared about. Friends. This was an intentional time with those men and it was intentionally recorded for me to read.
What I noticed first was how Jesus, who doesn’t do anything on a whim or gut reaction, asks Philip a question. “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” I don’t know why, but Philip needed that question. Jesus asked him intentionally.
Philip responded with (paraphrasing) “That’s impossible! Even if we all pitched in, it wouldn’t be enough for each person to have a bite. There’s no reason to even try.”
His answer started Andrew’s wheels turning. He must have seen a young boy standing nearby with some food. Starting with what they had, he said, “Well here’s some food, but how far will that really go?”
The rest of the story is so familiar. Jesus takes the food, tells the crowd to sit down in groups, gives thanks and feeds everyone in attendance.
I’ve read and heard so many sermons about order, thanksgiving, giving what you have and not being like Philip….and they all have their place.
But something new stood out to me. I asked the question, why is this story here? What is Jesus communicating with His actions? What is the lesson in between the lines of what’s not plainly stated?
When Jesus asked Philip where they could buy food to feed everyone, the next verse says He asked Philip to test him. Jesus already knew the answer. It’s like Jesus was allowing the impossible scenario to bubble to the surface. By the time Andrew piped in, it was clear there was NO WAY to feed all these people. There simply wasn’t enough.
I think that was the point.
In-between the lines of what’s not spoken, Jesus simply demonstrated He is enough. When every option on the table is deemed insufficient, Jesus breathes the impossible into life. Into reality!
I love how Jesus didn’t divvy the bread and fish out in equal portions. Two pieces of bread for the men, one piece for the women…Verse 11 says “Jesus distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. “
I’m thinking of when I’ve made a big pot of chili and invited some friends over, but suddenly the guest list grows and I’m afraid there’s not enough for everyone. I’m eyeing everyone’s bowl, looking for that one who got more than their share!! Yeah, Jesus didn’t do that.
I’m thinking, with the warmth of Heaven itself Jesus walked around the pockets of people saying “There’s still more here. Would you like another piece of bread?”
Later on in the gospels, Thomas is quoted as saying He wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen until He could put his fingers on the nail marks on his hands. A few days later Jesus appeared in the room and gave Thomas that opportunity to believe.
It’s like Jesus is doing that here with Philip. You think this is impossible? You think there’s not enough? Watch this…. With Me all things are possible. With me there is always enough.
Oh Lord give me that mindset!
I so often worry that I’ll be caught off guard and unprepared like the disciples found themselves when Jesus asked that intentional question. I worry that I won’t have the resources to do what I’m asked to do and perform the desired result.
Subconsciously I spend physical and mental and emotional energy “preparing” myself for all the possible scenarios so when the question comes either from my husband, a friend, myself of the Lord I have an answer and a plan! But that misses the whole point!
Jesus was teaching His followers – ME! – that He alone is sufficient. In this walk, God is going to ask us to do things beyond our ability and even capacity so that He can fulfill the need!
He is enough. Am I allowing Him to first satisfy me completely and then trust Him to be enough in my life without doing my own “preparations” just-in-case??