“Who is Jesus?” John 6 (Part 1 of 3)

Gather…so that nothing will be lost

The segment of the Gospel of John that our Bibles designate as Chapter 6 has a wealth of revelation about Jesus and who He is. Today’s post will look at verses 1-14. We know this section as the miracle of the feeding of five thousand men plus those who accompanied them. The account of John tells us that the crowds of people followed after Him because they saw the signs that Jesus was performing (healing) on the sick. Jesus sees the crowd of people and uses them to test His disciples.

“Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” He asks Philip. Philip calculates that there is no way for them to provide for such a large crowd. The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus told the disciples to go and look to see who has food. Andrew reports back, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” Jesus has the people sit down on the grass, gives thanks, and distributes food to those who were seated.

“When they were filled, he said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:12-13)

This time as I studied through these verses, I noticed the odd wording of Jesus’ instruction in verse 12. “Gather…so that nothing will be lost.” Many commentators point out that the Jews considered bread to be a gift from God. They were careful to always gather up the fragments of bread after meals. This would, of course, go back to their time spent wandering in the wilderness and Jesus will use this history in His teaching later about bread from heaven. But I also think that the word “lost” is worth noticing. The original word used is a strong word; it means much more that just wasted food or crumbs ignored on the ground. This is a word that is used other places in the New Testament to mean destroy or perish. It is used in the ‘lost’ parables in Luke – the coin, the one out of a hundred sheep, and the prodigal son. In Luke 19:10, Jesus uses it as a statement of His purpose, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” John 3:16 uses the word as “that whoever believes in his shall not ‘perish'”. In an ironic twist, the high priest Caiaphas advises “that it was expedient for one man to die (perish) on behalf of the people.” (John 18:14)

The disciples pick up twelve baskets of fragments from the five barley loaves; fragments that are not lost to the ground. Previously, I have considered the extravagant blessings of grace given by God to be represented by these leftovers. God often supplies in such abundance! This time however, I want to point out that just as Jesus was peculiarly concerned with gathering the leftovers so that they would not be lost, He was sent by God to gather those who were lost, dead, and perishing in their sins.

Please join me in praying that the women who come to our meetings in Cofradia will understand the person and mission of Jesus is to seek and to save the lost – those of us who are sinners and separated from God. Please pray that our team and the missionaries in Cofradia will be privileged to gather as the disciples did and celebrate the salvation of these souls.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Denise
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 09:13:49

    I heard an interesting commit about this passage from Anita Carmen. Anita points to this observation: “Jesus did not allow those without faith to distribute His provision. After it was evident God had provided, He then invited the faithless disciples to pick up the remains.”

    Read John 6:8-13 and see if you agree or disagree.

    Anita goes on to ask this question: “Describe a time you missed out on being involved with God from the beginning because of your lack of faith. Describe how God gave you a second chance to be involved.”


  2. Colleen
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 09:29:14

    I do not agree with this particular application. The parallel accounts in Matthew 14 (vs 19), Mark 6 (vs 41), Luke 9 (vs 16) clearly indicate that Jesus had the disciples distribute the food.

    Perhaps a better question would be: How much faith does one need to have to realize immeasurable blessings from following a command of Jesus?


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