Scripture for Sunday: 2 Samuel 11.1-15 (David & Bathsheba); John 6.1-21 (feeding 5000)
God’s abundance is a challenge to us, and for us to make responsible use of it is tinged with the risk of abuse.
Jesus is often referred to as the son of David and of David’s line, yet there is no moment of greater contrast between David and Christ than we see here.
We meet David, who has hitherto been faithful and respectful of God’s role in his life, yet who is now revealed have a shadowy side and to be lustful. Jesus, however, is straightforwardly loving and nurturing in a way that encourages his disciples to learn and grow in faith and in responsibility.
David takes God’s abundance and in this case uses it for personal gain: he is utterly for himself, while Jesus is for others. David offers a meal only to betray, while Jesus offers a meal as grace. David deliberately puts a loyal subject in danger, while Jesus protects friends and unknown followers alike from difficulty and danger. We might consider to what extent this same contrast exists in each one of us.
The psalm suggests that when we are totally in pursuit of our own ends and purposes, we banish God from within ourselves. The second reading is a beautiful and moving prayer for a Christian community, that it may be like its Christ. In the gospel, we see Jesus at his most pastoral: healing, teaching, and nurturing, while showing his power in the created order.
Where do we sit in all of this? Are we with David, grasping after what is not ours because we fail to remember and value what we have received from God’s generosity? Are we with the disciples, desperately seeking ways to feed a multitude when there is enough at hand – yet we fail to recognise its potential in Christ’s hands? Are we with the Spirit of Christ, responding to his call to open our hands both to give and to receive? Are we willing to take even a little of what we have and relinquish it so that others may receive?
It is important to understand that the more we allow God to fill our hearts, the less we will need to try to fill the God-shaped hole at the centre of our existence with other things. Remember: the miracle of the feeding does not happen until the disciples bring forward what little they do have, collectively, for Christ to bless.