the bounty | John 6.11-13
Jesus then 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. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. John 6.11-13 | ESV
Then he takes the bread, Jesus does, and having said the blessing, he passed it out to the waiting crowd – the wee fishes too, as much as they were wanting – and the bread and fish kept coming. And after everyone was quite literally glutted with bread and fish, Jesus turns to his followers, and directs them, “Gather together all that’s left. All of it. Nothing goes to waste.” So they did. They gathered together all the leftover pieces and fragments – enough for each of the twelve to fill up a basket apiece with bits of those five wee barley loaves after everyone had eaten their fill as they sat there holding their full stomachs. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
It’s the word Paul uses in one of his prayers for early believers in Ephesus. The King James version classically translates it “exceeding abundantly above”; more recent translations render it with something like “immeasurably more.” It’s composed of three words: ὑπερ meaning above or beyond; εκ meaning outside of; and περισσοῦ meaning abundance. It’s an abundance, but not just an abundance, it’s a super-abundance; but not just a super-abundance, it’s a super-abundance that breaks the boundaries of anyone’s expectation or prognostication.
It’s a word that can easily conjure up images of Cadillac’s, private jets and luxuriant dining, but in this story of divine provision we know as the feeding of the five thousand, we would be asked to associate it with barley breadsticks and sardines. It’s not caviar but crackers; not filet mignon, but Big Macs – check that, it’s the cheap burgers (without cheese) on the $1 menu.
So much for prosperity.
Even the baskets used to gather up all the leftovers speak “low-end”: cheap, rough, wicker baskets that poor people would use to carry home enough bread for a family meal.
All this takes us back to the manna – and the miraculous feeding that day certainly did just that for the crowd! Manna was not premium bread. In fact, it wasn’t bread at all, but the raw material to process into flour to then make and bake into bread, and “he who gathered much didn’t have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
It was extravagant provision that ends up being just what the doctor ordered.
Maybe not exactly the bounty we were expecting, but one that nevertheless defies all our expectations and that frequently utilizes raw materials right under our very noses…
Where right now do you need such “exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask” provision?
Lord, I so think I can fill in all the blanks on what’s needed and click all the boxes as to quantity desired. Open my heart to embrace the impossible possibilities of provision from your hand that I can’t even predict; and give me faith to have a basket at the ready to gather up all the leftovers. Through Christ.