It’s not the only time this would happen. It would happen again in the ministry of Jesus. Leftovers speak to the volume of the food that was given. Are you thankful for leftovers?
A. I don’t know about you, but I had lots to eat these past several days. In fact, we still have lots to eat! I don’t know what your favorite thanksgiving food is, but my guess is that turkey is not the top of everyone’s list. You might find sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese, special pies or other side dishes that every just loves.
B. I have to tell you, that I am not a big fan of left overs. In part, because with most food, reheating in the microwave just is not the same taste and consistency was when it was freshly cooked. Thanksgiving is one exception for me. I don’t mine heating up the left over sides or the turkey and just munching my way to five more pounds of fat on this body of mine.
C. But I have seen people who have very little food and survive on one very basic meal a day. We hear news reports of children around the world who are malnourished and most of us have leftovers from Thanksgiving. I can feel a little guilty about the amount of food that was consumed by me over the last few days when I think of those who have so little.
D. But today, I want to spend time thanking God for our leftovers, not guilt-tripping us for having so much to begin with. The story we will examine today is famous for Sunday school kid classes and theologians alike.
I. The Story
A. The setting of the story is one in which we find Jesus hurting. The news of the killing of John the Baptist weighed heavy on the heart of Jesus. He had also been spending lots of time with lots of people – healing and teaching. He wanted a little time alone with the disciples.
B. I get that. I spend lots of time with lots of people, but every now and then, I just want a little time with just a few people. But the crowds would not leave Jesus and the disciples alone.
C. The gospels help us to see that Jesus saw the people and had compassion upon them. Their needs were more important to Jesus than his own. Jesus, who knows all things, and knows what is going to happen, wanted to test the heart of the disciples. Jesus asks Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” The disciples were in agreement on the reality of the situation, send the people away, it’s too much for us to meet their needs.
D. Sit with this, there is a reality issue at hand and Jesus doesn’t understand reality as well as the disciples. The answer, the truthful answer given by Philip was given as a monetary issue. The cost of 200 denarii would not buy enough bread for them to have just a little bit each. The point is clear; “Jesus, you don’t get it. It’s nice that you like people and are a great healer and teacher, but when it comes to food, you are asking for too much.”
E. The most annoying person in the world is a “optimist” when a “realist” is trying to explain the complexity of a problem. Jesus was way too optimistic for this group of disciples. When you think about the problems in this life, how do you see the solutions? Are they, like many of us, based upon reality – the only understanding that makes sense? I get that. Most every day is exactly the same as far as the sun rises and sets, gravity exists, and food costs money. I hear people talking about everyday miracles, but I don’t see biblical style miracles happening. So, I really get these disciples. Yes, they saw and experienced things I have not, but live in the world just like I do and food costs money.
F. I have no idea how much money we spent on our Thanksgiving meal to feed 6 adults, but I can’t imagine what the cost would be to feed 5000 men plus women and children. So 200 denarii may have been a good guess.
II. The Leftovers
A. But we know what Jesus did. He took the blessing of boy who gave up his 5 loaves and 2 fish and used them to feed thousands. But the point I want make is what was read in our text (READ John 6:12).
B. Jesus was concerned with the leftovers! What?! It begs the question, “Why did Jesus have the disciples do this and do 12 baskets mean anything?
C. I don’t get hung up on this one. I will let you come to any conclusion you desire, but I will say this much. It proves what Jesus did was more than provide “just a little bit for each person” as Philip thought. Jesus gives me so much more than I either deserve or need. The leftovers are proof of his love. The story started with Jesus having compassion on the people and ends with leftovers having value.
D. Sometimes, having leftovers is like having a penny in our pocket—we don’t think it’s very important. To some people, leftovers are worthless, while to others, they are very important. Jesus told His disciples to gather up the leftover fragments because He viewed the leftovers as important. These fragments were part of God’s grace.
E. For the disciples, the 5000 plus were an inconvenience to their evening plans, but to Jesus, these 5000 were more than “leftovers” to be discarded, they were the purpose Jesus came to this earth. I believe the leftovers was Jesus’ way of helping the disciples to see the value in what is being offered – not food for the stomach, but food for the soul. Later Jesus would call himself “the bread of life.”
A. I look at my life, and I know that I am far more blessed then I deserve. In reality, my cup runs over. It reminds me of an old poem “Drinking from the Saucer.”
B. What do we do with the leftovers? I guess it depends on the value we place on the. Yet we are here today because of these many small fragments of Grace. There’s a hymn that reminds us, “COUNT YOUR MANY BLESSINGS.” It is our duty to keep these small fragments in our basket. We often complain, wondering why God seems to give more blessings to others than He gives to us. This is because we don’t pick up all of the small fragments of God’s grace. If we gather up all the fragments and put them in our baskets, we will recognize the abundance of grace inside.
Drinking From The Saucer
by John Paul Moore
I’ve never made a fortune,
And I’ll never make one now
But it really doesn’t matter
‘Cause I’m happy anyhow
As I go along my journey
I’m reaping better than I’ve sowed
I’m drinking from the saucer
‘Cause my cup has overflowed
I don’t have a lot of riches,
And sometimes the going’s tough
But with kin and friends to love me
I think I’m rich enough
I thank God for the blessings
That His mercy has bestowed
I’m drinking from the saucer
‘Cause my cup has overflowed
He gives me strength and courage
When the way grows steep and rough
I’ll not ask for other blessings for
I’m already blessed enough
May we never be too busy
To help bear another’s load
Then we’ll all be drinking from the saucer
When our cups have overflowed