Sunday Reflection: Barley Loaves

Everyone loves the story of the Loaves and Fishes. If we had Christian parents we would have heard the story many times from our childhood as it occurs in each of the Gospels. Yet even in passages like this which I have read countless times it never fails to intrigue me that the stories still have something new to reveal.

One of the things I discovered about this week’s Gospel reading came from Rev Dr Sunny Chen, he realised that in the John reading, as opposed to the similar readings in the other Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6.30-44, and Luke 9:10-17) that the bread in this weeks Revised Common Lectionary, John 6:1-15 is described as Barley Bread, now being a curious scholar, he looked further into the use of Barley Bread in the Bible and realised that it was used on 5 other occasions (Numbers 5:15, Judges 5:8, 7:13, 2 Kings 4:42, Ezekiel 4:12), on each occasion it was given to someone of importance, a priest or a prophet. With this understanding, this passage by John seems to be maker a deeper point that this food was fit for a prophet, Jesus. 

My curious brain, started to wonder, if this was food for a priest or a prophet, then who was bringing it. This time it was a child, out of the hands of babes, came the identification of Jesus. Not an adult, like the disciples who were worried about the practicalities of getting food, but from a child. Even within the story, the metaphor was strong, children can worship Jesus, they bring all that they have.

No longer is this just a lovely story that children can identify themselves in, but it is a very real reminder to adults that children can identify the Lord, and bring what they have into that relationship.

Take away the quick fix morality answers, such as the story means we should share, going further into the story can bring new insights. In this story, in John, we should be seeing something deeper, that even a child can worship and bring all that they have. It reminds me of the story of the woman at Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13), showering Jesus’s head in perfume, when others were being too practical about cost, she an outcast was reminding us in that story that all can come to Jesus with what they have. 

Where are the children in your congregation, are you locking them out because you are too practical about noise, about short attention spans, have you failed to see that children can acknowledge Jesus, that they bring what they can and can entice more (12 baskets left over) from those assembled. Are you brave enough to let the children in your congregation worship alongside you, contribute to the acknowledgement of who Christ is, and encourage more from all assembled (be it face to face or by zoom or however your congregation is worshipping at present).


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.