Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Friday’s Podcast. Yes, it’s Friday the weekend beckons and the working week is nearly finished for many. That is, unless you have small children, when unfortunately the working week is never behind you. If you do have small children, let me encourage you today that you are doing a great job, and one day (probably when they are 30) your children will look back and so appreciate it! The nurture of children is a Godly calling! A quick hello at this point to our five grandchildren – Josiah, Anabelle, Abigail, Nathaniel and Ivy … lots of love from Granny and Grandad!
All this week we have been considering ‘conversations’ Jesus had with those around him, looking at the truths expressed and reflecting on how we can put those life truths into practice. Today’s Bible reading is John 6:1-24 and our focus memory verse today is v20 – hear this amazing statement from Jesus speaking to his anxious friends: ‘It is I, don’t be afraid.’
There are two famous stories in today’s passage – firstly, Jesus feeding the 5000 and then Jesus walking on water. Both stories contain two challenging conversations Jesus has with his disciples.
Story one: Jesus feeds 5000 people – we’re actually told it’s 5000 men as they only counted men in those days; that’s why Jesus’ inclusion of women in his ministry was so radical! Some scholars believe that the total number fed including women and children was nearer 14,000. That’s a lot of bread and fish! Jesus has this short and to the point conversation with his disciples about how these people are going to be fed – they didn’t know, so Jesus steps in and feeds the hungry people.
Two truths here – first, Jesus knows exactly what he’s doing even if his disciples obviously don’t! That should be a great encouragement to all of us today. Trust Jesus, he knows what he’s doing!
Second, every day make it your aim to be generous – not just in what you have or what you do but in who you are. You can never out-give God!
Second story: this begins at v16. Jesus leaves his disciples to get space to pray – they row across the lake planning to meet him on the other side. A storm blows up and they are frightened – in fact the word used in v19 to described ‘frightened’ gives us the English word ‘phobia’ which translates as ‘terrified’. These people were not just frightened, they were absolutely terrified, ‘scared senseless’ as the Message Bible puts it.
People experience fear in different ways and react to it in different ways; for some it is a mild anxiety which they get over quickly, for others they are so fearful that they literally cannot move. The Bible tells us that ‘God is love‘ (1John 4:8) and that ‘perfect love casts out (banishes) all fear‘ (1John 4:18). Christians believe that Jesus is God so… Jesus casts out all fear; when Jesus comes, fear goes. It’s what happens in this story.
Over this past week we have reflected on some deep conversations Jesus had with different people; this last conversation is incredibly short – in fact it’s just a clear statement he gives to his friends – in their distress he says to them, and to us today, these words: ‘It is I, don’t be afraid’.
As I write this reflection, the D-Day celebrations are being shown on TV. I was listening to one veteran speaking of his absolute fear as he stepped onto that Normandy beach seventy five years ago as a 19 year old soldier. I was deeply moved as I listened to him and especially as he admitted he was absolutely terrified, but he got on with the task before him.
We live in troubling times. Every day seems to bring another challenge. As a nation we are living in great political, social, economic and spiritual uncertainty. Brexit angst still dominates our national, local and personal life. Donald Trump the US President is visiting the UK along with his thousand strong team – figure that one out! The headlines never seem to change, do they? – political unrest, violence on our streets, struggling schools, NHS under pressure, queues for Foodbanks … the list goes on.
Such things can bring great uncertainty, intense anxiety, even fear, to many. In such times Jesus still says now as he did then: trust me, live generous lives and when troubles come remember ‘It is I, don’t be afraid’. As we take time to have our own ‘conversations’ with the Lord, be bold to ask him for his help, his guidance and his joy! So be encouraged, the challenges are fleeting and will pass, the joy of the Lord is our strength, the best is yet to be. Have a great weekend!
Lord Jesus, thank you for speaking to us this week as we have reflected on the conversations you had with so many different people. This day may I know and experience your encouragement as I look to live your generous life and be a blessing to others. Amen.
READING: John 6:1-24
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing those who were ill. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’
Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.