Readings: Ephesians 4: 1-6 and John 6: 24-35
Aug. 1, 2021
By Rev. Marguerite Sheehan
Trust me. How often have we heard someone say, “trust me” and our reaction is, “I don’t think so!” The age we are living in is steeped in disbelief and distrust.
I remember as a teenager hearing, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”
Nowadays we are told to not trust anyone or anything. Not the politicians or the internet. Not the church or our neighbors. Not public health officials or the scientific community.
We are not so different from those first Jesus followers who struggled to trust their world. Our dollar bills may say, “In God we trust,” but we struggle to put our trust in everything and everyone, including God.
Listen to the beginning of this Gospel again, this time in another version, The Message.
“The next day the crowd that was left behind realized that there had been only one boat and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples. They had seen them go off without him. By now boats from Tiberias had pulled up near where they had eaten the bread blessed by the Master. So when the crowd realized he was gone and wasn’t coming back, they piled into the Tiberias boats and headed for Capernaum, looking for Jesus. When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.
“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?”
Jesus said, “Sign on with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”
They waffled. “Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. . .”
The disciples waffled. They wanted proof before they committed themselves to Jesus although they had already been fed with 5,000 other people. What more proof did they need?
They must have known in their heart of hearts that they were no different than the long-ago Hebrews who did not trust when God sent manna with only one restriction: take only what you need for one day at a time. They called that God given food “manna” which translates to “what is that???”
The Hebrews had tried to stock up and the manna spoiled in their hands and now the followers of Jesus were crying out, “give us this bread always!” Not, “give us our daily bread,” but our constant bread. Then we will believe. Maybe.
Does any of this sound familiar? For many of us the sign of the miraculous increase in the loaves and fish is very familiar. We see it every day when it seems like we don’t have enough of anything and then lo! we have even more. We call it experiences of loaves and fish.
But what happens to us then is the same thing that happened to the disciples. We think it is a “one-off” miracle, not reality. We don’t see how our lingering mistrust, in God and anyone, clutters our minds and hardens our hearts. Oh, to be curious rather than critical!
For the next few Sundays we are going to hear how this Gospel story played out in Jesus’s time. It is not pretty. Mistrust never is. Living with a heart tuned to mistrust is corrosive to the life of the Spirit. Living with a heart tuned to relationship is what faith and action is all about.
Today we are hearing that Jesus is committed to deepening our relationships – with each other, with him, and with God. What the old-time song calls “a closer walk with Thee.”
This is what we need to make sense of our world, a deepening experience of trust that God is right here. Abiding with us through the hard times and the good times.
Jesus says, “I am not talking about signs or symbols or miracles. I am talking about me. Trust me on this one. Walk with me. Eat with me. Be with me. Now and forever more. The rest will come in time.