I firmly believe that salvation is a gift, that once accepted no one can take away. However, I believe faith is something that grows.
I also think that the stages we see in the feeding of the 5000, that mirror the stages of the woman at the well, shed light into our own progression of faith.
Philip represents the first stage. Denial and doubt. We saw this with the Samaritan woman’s first response to Jesus requesting a drink, denial and doubt built from the thought of a Jew asking a Samaritan for a drink. Philip does the same with Jesus’ question, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Andrew represents the second stage. Questioning. Again, the woman at the well had reached this stage when she returned to her town and asked this others, “could this be Messiah?” We move in this stage from sheer doubt and denial to a flicker of hope and cautious acceptance. Andrew find the boy and asks, “how far will they go among so many?”
The young boy represents the third stage. Participating. We know very little about the little boy. Did he bring goods to sell? Was this his lunch? Did he approach Andrew? Did Andrew approach him? A lot of commentators make assumptions in these areas and shape entire discussions then around their assumptions, such as how generous the young boy was, etc. I don’t know, we don’t know, we only know what the scriptures say, which is that he had 5 loaves and 2 fishes. But what we do know is that he, through his loaves and fishes, got to participate in this amazing miracle. The same was true for the Samaritan woman. The townspeople, after 2 days with Jesus, professed that they no longer believed based on what she said alone, but on the word of Jesus that they had experienced for themselves. The woman didn’t save the people, any more than 5000 people ate their fill from 5 loaves and 2 fish. It was the power of the Holy Spirit, working through the woman and the bread/fish, that saves and feeds us even to this day.
Where are you currently on your faith walk with Jesus? If you doubt, is it time to start asking questions of hope instead? If you have been asking questions, is it time to engage and give and participate? If you are engaged and giving and participating, is it time to look at what denials and doubts are still present in the darker corners of your life? It is a continual process, growing in holiness each day, as long as we walk with Jesus.
Philip: Take 6 months wages for everyone to have even a bite – Denial
Andrew: Here is a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish, but how far will they go among so many? – Questioning
Boy: Gave – Generosity.
This also is a reflection of the stages of faith. At first we don’t believe, then we questioningly belief, then we accept God’s power and participate.
Gave thanks. One of respect and love. We give thanks at meals and pray together, but I’m not always thankful to God during times of trial.
1. Jesus saw the crowd – pray to have eyes opened
2. A boy was willing to share what he had – Be generous
3. Jesus had the people sit – Find peace
4. Jesus gave thanks – Give thanks
5. Jesus/disciples distributed – Serve others
6. All fed – enough to eat – feed and be fed (physically and spiritually)
7. Disciples gather the pieces left over – 12 baskets – Let nothing be wasted, gather back more than given to feed again.
Proclaim the glory of God