John 6:7-9 Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?"
There are 3 groups in our story. There is Jesus, the disciples, and the people. Each group has its own interest, each group has its own story to tell, and rarely do we get an opportunity to consider something from all perspectives. Jesus and the disciples had gone to a lonely place to get some rest - but the people guessed where Jesus was going and the followed, and when Jesus and the disciples arrived, the people were waiting. Many people came because they heard Jesus would be there, and it was more important to come and hear Jesus than it was to plan for what came next.
I want you to think about it, what does this mean? Consider that over half the people in Madison county have no church home - suppose they heard that Jesus was here - suppose one Sunday they all came - what would we do? We could fill up the pews, put chairs in the aisles, turn on the speakers downstairs - and even then we would run out of room - if all the people in Madison county all came to church - even with all the churches - there would still not be enough room. We live in mission country - all those people who know all sorts of things, they know football scores, baseball scores, whose performing at the fair, and where the fishing is best - and yet they just don't know that they can find Jesus here each and every Sunday. Not only do they not know Jesus is here, but they don't know about what Jesus has done, or how Jesus can help them, nor do they know about how the blood of Jesus takes away all their sins, and gives them peace and the hope of ever lasting life. They don't know that they need not fear death, because in Jesus we have everlasting life. How would they learn that Jesus is here? The simplest way is if the people who know that Jesus is here, would tell them what they have seen and heard - that's what it is to be a disciple.
OK, so Jesus had thought to bring the disciples to a quiet hilltop, where they could find a little rest - but when they arrive, the people are already there and waiting - so what does Jesus do - he has compassion on them, because they are like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus has compassion and he teaches them. That's one of the really remarkable things about Jesus, his compassion - he loves all the people, and gives them what they need. Jesus doesn't love just the good people, or just the faithful people - he loves all the people. And when it came time to pay the price for sin, Jesus didn't die just for the good people, or for just the faithful people, but he died for all the people, because God wants all to be saved, Jesus died even for those who were his enemies, Jesus died that all sinners might live, and we are all sinners. It is the richness of the love of God that is ours in Jesus that makes people want to come to hear about Jesus, because hearing about Jesus is always good news.
That leaves us with the disciples - and when we listen to them, we find that they are not so much different than we are. How often do we find ourselves asking the question - how can we pay for it? Do we forget that all that we have comes from God? Do we forget to give thanks for God's blessings? Do we forget that God has blessed us, so that we can be a blessing to others? Of course we do - nobody's perfect, we all sin much daily. And yet we know that since God gives us whatever we need, when we need it. So if we needed two hundred denarii for a meal, we know that God would give it to us, just as he gives us each day our daily bread. And if we wondered where we would put all these people - God could certainly help us with that as well. And if we wondered, as we often do, what are so few among so many - we could learn that just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes, so Jesus can multiply the workers for the harvest of souls in this mission field we have, right in our own backyard.
So, what's the most important thing? Jesus is here! Jesus is here and he loves us, and cares for us, and brings to us just what we need.