The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 12B (July 26, 2015)
Lessons:2nd Kings 4:42-44 Psalm 145:10-18 Ephesians 3:14-21 St. John 6:1-21 Semicontinuous Series: 2nd Samuel 11:1-15 Psalm 14
Prayer of the Day: Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth. Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven and share this bread with all the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
6:1After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” 15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. 16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.
St. John 6:1-21 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Philip and Andrew
This weekend’s Gospel lesson features two of the lesser-known disciples of Jesus. Those of us who have spent any time at all with the Bible can recall story after story about Peter and James and John. They make up the inner circle of Jesus, and are often with him when none of the others are present. But the disciples in this week’s story, Philip and Andrew, are not as well known. In fact, other than those passages where the Gospel writers name all twelve disciples, these two are mentioned only four times.
We meet Philip in the first chapter of John’s Gospel. In that passage, Jesus calls Philip to follow him. Philip not only follows Jesus immediately, but also becomes instrumental in convincing Nathanael to do the same. We meet Andrew when Jesus passes by a group of fishermen. Andrew is Simon Peter’s brother, and they were partners in a Sea of Galilee fishing enterprise near Bethsaida. Along with James and John (the sons of Zebedee), Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to follow him. All at once they drop everything, leaving Zebedee with the boats and nets, and begin to follow Jesus. In John 12, Philip and Andrew are instrumental in introducing a group of Greeks to Jesus.
The fourth appearance of Philip and Andrew, of course, is this weekend’s Gospel lesson. As is often the case, a large crowd has been following Jesus, largely because of the healing miracles he is performing. On this particular occasion there are about five thousand people present. Jesus looks at them, then turns to Philip and asks him where he thinks they might find food to feed such a crowd. Philip is the pragmatist: “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
Jesus isn’t looking for pragmatic advice, though. He is looking for signs of faith, and finds them in Andrew, who foolishly but hopefully says: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.” Andrew realizes what a silly notion that is and begins to back-peddle, but Jesus ignores that and calls for the boy’s lunch. He gives thanks and distributes it to the crowd, and those five thousand people discover that they have more than they can eat.
How many times have individual believers, congregations, or denominations shied away from an opportunity for ministry because they had the pragmatic attitude of Philip? “We couldn’t do that with six months of income! Let’s pass on it, and hope someone else is able to do it.” And another chance to reach someone for Christ is lost.
This Gospel lesson is an encouragement for us to put aside the pragmatic short-sighted attitude of Philip, and take up the foolish but faithful position of Andrew. If five barley loaves and two fish can feed five thousand people, imagine what Christ can accomplish with what you and I have to bring to the table! Indeed, with Christ, all things are possible.
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
- What thoughts must have been going through Philip’s mind when he saw the crowd?
- How were Andrew’s thoughts different than Philip’s?
- What do Jesus’ actions reveal about each man’s perspective?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
- Do I tend to identify more with Andrew or Philip?
- What ministry lies before me (or us), that I doubt my (or our) ability to accomplish?
- How would my perspective change if I believed that all things were possible?