July 25, 2021

Enough

Preacher:
Passage: John 6:1- 35

Enough.

 

Do you have enough?

 

It is a good question?

 

Do you have enough?

 

You might reply?

Do I have enough what?

 

I don’t mean certain specific things like, do you have enough Cheerios in your cupboard, or enough gas in the gas tank.

 

What I mean is that if you take your life as a whole, do you have enough?

 

I sat down many years ago and came to a conclusion that I have already won the lottery.

I have a beautiful, faithful, hard-working, generous partner and wife in Fiona.

I have four children and three grandchildren who are pearls beyond price.

I have a good relationship with them and there is a ton of mutual love. My children have good partners and I have a good relationship with them.

I have a house and cars and all kinds of tech like tvs and cell phones and the like.

 

I have a good job and I get to share the good news of Jesus every week.

I have enough to not only pay the bills, but to go on holidays and get presents for my children and grandchildren. Actually, it is Fiona who does most of the present buying. When our kids open their birthday or Christmas presents, that is sometimes when I find out what I got them.

 

I have good friends and some of them sit in these pews and sing in the choir.

 

I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, who I believe not only has showered grace and forgiveness upon me, but has helped me grow up into love and grace.

 

Sometimes I feel that I have already won the lottery because I have enough. Not only enough food, and enough money, but enough love.

I have everything I need to be happy and fulfilled.

 

I have had times that were difficult, financially and emotionally. In fact, for the first 25 or so years of ministry, with four kids at home, we struggled financially.

I have had sufferings and enemies and struggles and crises of faith. I have had failures and made mistakes and said the wrong thing, and have done stupid things.

 

But through it all the grace of Christ has been sufficient. God’s grace has been enough to see us through.

 

But that is not the world’s story. The world’s story is that we are finite and limited and there are not enough resources to go around. There is a vaccine shortage and a wood shortage and a gas shortage and a land shortage and a housing shortage and a toilet paper shortage, so get out there and stock up on your toilet paper to see you through the rest of the pandemic and into the future.

 

We are constantly bombarded with messages in the media about what we need and you better get it, because we do not have enough to be happy.

You need life insurance, and you need the latest pharmaceutical, and you need free range, grass-fed, hormone-free, made in Canada, gluten-free, with no added chemicals, Angus beef in your fast-food burger or you will be sad and depressed for all eternity.

I dare say our whole capitalistic, free market, system is built on the premise of scarcity, and the scarcer it is, the more the price goes up.

 

And the thing is if we believe in the basic principle of scarcity what happens is that we hoard. We hold on to things.

There are whole industries built upon the premise of rarity. Art, jewelry, fashion, cosmetics, memorabilia among other industries are not necessarily based on what it costs to produce, but on the brand, the rarity, the importance of the person who produced it, or who endorses it, or whose image is on it.

Let us take land. It seems pretty expensive to own a piece of land today. Why is that? Well, some say that there is not enough land and so its scarcity makes it rare and that drives the price up.

The reality is not that land is scarce. Did you know that in Canada the Federal and Provincial governments own about 89% of all land? About 11 percent is privately owned.

There is lots of land. And of that 11 percent that is privately owned, a lot of it is bought up by investors and with zoning bylaws, it is released a little at a time and the investors sell it off to developers, and the investors make a profit. The developers may sell it to builders. So, the developers make a profit.
Then the builders have to make a profit. And then it is sold and then real estate has to make a profit.

It all artificially keeps the prices up.

 

The point is, that it is not scarcity when it comes to land. There is enough. It is the system that keeps it scarce for the consumer.

 

Which brings us to our story today. Jesus feeds five thousand. At least that is what the headline is in the Good News Bible.

I think it is an important story. It is one of the few stories in all four gospels, and the feeding of the multitudes appears six times in the gospels.

John, by far, give it the fullest treatment, so full a treatment that it becomes one of the most challenging chapters in all of the gospels to understand. It is layered upon layer with metaphors of meaning. And the meaning is so difficult to understand and accept that at the end of John chapter 6 you have these words:

Because of this many followers of Jesus turned back and would not go with him any more.

 

Jesus had large crowds following him and Jesus rather than saying things that everybody would love, says some things that people found downright offensive.

 

Wow.

 

The initial event is fairly well known. Jesus has crossed over the sea of Galilee which is not really a sea but a big lake. But a pretty substantial lake. It is 8 miles across. Today’s fast motorboats could get across in ten to 15 minutes, but in Jesus’ day I suppose it would take a few hours with a good wind at your back and much longer against any kind of headwind. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even go if the wind was against you and you would just wait for a favourable wind.

 

He is on the Gentile side and huge crowds are following him. Both Jews and Gentiles I imagine, because the Passover is mentioned.

And Jesus asks Philip where he can buy enough food to feed the people.

I am sure it is a bit of a test, but Philip takes Jesus literally and looks at Jesus as if Jesus has three heads.

“It would take more than a year’s wages to buy food for these people” he replies.

 

And Andrew brings in a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish.

Jesus told the disciples to make the crowd sit down. They did so and Jesus distributed the bread and the fish and everybody had enough.

In fact, there were twelve baskets of leftovers.

 

And maybe one of the most common interpretations of this story or event is to do with sharing.

 

That the lesson is to take what you have like the young boy with his loaves and fish and share them with others.

That the real miracle is sharing,

 

A famous liberal Protestant Minister by the name of Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, who was minister at City Temple church in London, England about 80 years ago, in one of his sermons suggested that when the fish and bread was passed around, everybody, who actually had their own food, realized that they should take their food out and share it. And they did.

He downplayed the miraculous and said that the sharing sparked sharing.

As a child learning about this story in Sunday School it was impressed upon us that we share what we have with Jesus and others… that we could be the little boy who shares our loaves and fishes.

 

I suppose that goes to the theme of this sermon in some ways. With Jesus there is enough.

The problem with hunger and education and many other things in this world is not there is not enough resources, but that we have the resources and we just need to share them.

I remember hearing about a minister, although I cannot remember who the minister was, but the minister supposedly would say in church something like:

       The good news is that you, the congregation have lots of money to support this congregation and its ministry. You have loads of money. There is more than enough money. However, that money is in your pockets and in your bank accounts. You just need to share it.

 

       So, I think there is on an economical level this message from Jesus in the feeding of the five thousand, that there are the resources in this world to feed and nurture people. The important thing is for us to share the resources.

 

But I think there is a deeper level for us to go.

Where is Jesus? He is on the Gentile side. There are certainly Jews in the crowd, but lots of Gentiles too.

One of the big questions in the early church was about who was entitled to receive grace. We kind of take it for granted that the church is open to Gentiles after 1950 years or so, but when Andrew said there is not enough food for everybody, the saying had a larger implication of about who was entitled to Jesus’ food.

Was there enough for the stranger, the Gentile, the different, the outcast?

 

You know in that crowd that day there were people of different colour, there were people of different race, there were people of different ages, there were people of different sexes and there were people of different sexual orientations…

And everyone had enough. They were all filled not only with food, but with acceptance and love and grace.

 

And so, on one level there is enough resources for all if we share.

At the next level there is enough love and grace for all, and I mean… all people of every difference.

 

And going to another level we get to the whole question of what they are being fed.

 

The crowd chases after Jesus and follow him around the lake.

There are a couple of things they are after. One of the things they are after is political power. Jesus knew that they wanted to seize him and make him their king. Someone who might throw off the Romans and gain Jewish independence.

But that kind of power is not the kind of thing that Jesus wants to feed them.

The second thing they are after is the miraculous. Even Jesus says that they followed him to see miracles and because they were fed, but Jesus then says that they don’t understand his miracles.

Jesus is not interested in feeding them miracles.

 

Jesus says several things about himself here. He calls himself “true bread,” “the bread of God,” “the bread of life,” “the bread that give life to the world” and “the living bread.”

 

There is a deeper level here. Jesus is feeding them himself.

Jesus himself is truth. Jesus himself is life. Jesus himself is forgiveness. Jesus himself is love.

 

He isn’t just giving them, food, or power, or healing, or acceptance, he is giving them life itself.

 

Let me say three things about Jesus giving them life itself.

When you have life, real life, you know who you are. You know your identity and what you are about.

Those who receive Jesus know they are children of God and they know their mission or purpose is to love.

 

When you have life, real life, eternal life, abundant life, you know how you are to communicate and have life with other people.  You know that they are God’s children and no matter how broken or fallen they are, they are your brothers and sisters and you know that you treat them with love and respect.

 

And when you have life, real life, true life, eternal life, abundant life, then you know what it is to be free. That is… you know that nothing can stop you, or control you, or keep you from making the choice to love.

The things you have, the relationships you have, the job you have, all have no power over you to keep you from being a child of God, and from loving God and others.

 

That is all a part of Jesus feeding you himself.

 

And it is a hard saying and a difficult metaphor.

 

And not everybody wants to accept this, or feed on the love of Jesus, or live the way Jesus lives.

Some are afraid to embrace Jesus’ way of life.

 

Jesus said: “ I am the bread of life”

This is the first of the seven great “I am” sayings.

In Greek ego eimi  I am

I am the bread of life.

I am the light of the world

I am the door

I am the good shepherd

I am the resurrection and the life

I am the way, the truth and the life

I am the true vine

 

And all of these sayings are fleshing out the metaphor of Jesus being our food and Jesus being our life.

These are just other aspects of how Jesus nourishes us and gives us life.

 

And just to make the point even further, in the middle of this bread of life chapter, this feeding chapter, is a story of Jesus walking on water to the fearful disciples who are in the middle of the storm.

And what does Jesus say? “Don’t be afraid. Ego Eimi.”

“Don’t be afraid. I am.”

Don’t be afraid to receive the “I am” into your life, to give you life.

You might even remember that when Moses asked God’s name and what to tell the Egyptians God told him to say to the Egyptians: the one who is called “I Am” has sent me to you.

 

When Jesus uses I am, Jesus is giving us not only life but divine life. Jesus is giving us God’s life.

 

And we get this this life, this divine life, also called abundant life, or true life or eternal life, not by merely assenting to some facts about Jesus, or having the right doctrine, or by going to church, or even by being good, but by having a relationship with Jesus.

 

As Jesus will say in vs 56 of John chapter 6: those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me and I live in them.

 

This is union talk. This is relationship talk. This is about us talking to Jesus, listening to Jesus, learning not only about Jesus but spending time with Jesus.

This is surrendering our lives in some ways, so that we let the Jesus who lives in us have some control, so that our instincts, our habits, our way of being become Jesus’ instincts, Jesus’ habits, Jesus’ way of being.

 

It is heady stuff.

And a lot of people have real trouble with this.

 

Because the real question behind all of this is this: Is Jesus enough?

Is Jesus’ love enough?

Is Jesus’ inclusion enough?

Is Jesus’ way of non-violence enough?

Is Jesus’ way of non-judgement enough?

Is Jesus’ way of service enough?

Is Jesus’ way of sacrifice enough?

Is Jesus’ way of losing one’s life for another enough?

And is Jesus’ way of reconciliation with all people enough?

 

And if you notice, the more Jesus talks about himself being the bread, and eating this bread, and feeding on him, the more the opposition rises to Jesus.

 

Because the truth is there are many, many people, Christians included, that don’t think that Jesus is enough.

We need better laws

We need guns.

We need armies.

We need boundaries and border walls

We need money.

We need a robust economy

We need a retirement package.

We need to outlaw certain things and exclude certain people.

We need more police and more jails.

We need to get tougher on the Russians and the Chinese.

 

And many people walk away from love, and peace, and non-violence, and forgiveness, and reconciliation and inclusion for all.

 

But I suppose for many of us here today, and for many watching online what we have found is what Peter ends with.

 

“Jesus, you alone have the words of life….”

…or abundant life, or true life, or eternal life.

 

That is my testimony today too. In Jesus I have found life.

 

That Jesus lives in us and we live in him.

That Jesus is enough. Amen.