“When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”
John 6:12 (KJV)
How are you? I have been writing posts on the topic of thanksgiving during the month of November. At first glance, John 6:12 might not seem like a topic of thanksgiving. There is no word that resembles “thanks”, “thankfulness”, “thank you”, “thankful”, “giving thanks”, or “thanksgiving” in the verse. Yet, to me, it fits in so many ways.
Let’s refresh our memory about what happened before this verse. Jesus just fed about or over five thousand people starting with five barley loaves and two small fish. (John 6:9-10) Now, we are hearing that there are leftovers.
Before we dive into meaning and thoughts about John 6:12, let’s think about our food practices for a moment. How often do we forget that we have something in the fridge and it gets pushed aside just to spoil? How often do we have leftovers and not want to eat them, so we just throw them away?
I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving Day is a prime time to have leftovers. And, once we look into it and ponder it awhile, I think we will see that John 6:12 has more to do with thanksgiving than leftovers.
So, what can we learn from the words in John 6:12? Well, from the first part of the verse we can see that the people were filled. It wasn’t just a snack or a crumb that Jesus gave the people to “hold them over” until they could eat again. They were filled!
I have to wonder just how thankful everyone in the crowd was that Jesus gave them such a gift. I mean, not only did Jesus perform a miracle right in front of them, but also they got to eat of its bounty. It must have been an awesome experience!
From the words in John 6:12, we can also tell how Jesus feels about wasting food. The Bible has a number of verses about not wasting things, so I am guessing that waste of any sort is not anything that Jesus likes. We can learn from this verse, that it isn’t good to be wasteful.
Also, I think being wasteful is not a way to show thankfulness. Remember, Jesus gave thanks for the barley loaves and fish before they were multiplied. Did people give thanks after they were received? Would they have thrown away the leftovers if Jesus hadn’t told his disciples to go pick up them up? What do you do with your leftovers?
I can’t help but think that maybe this verse is about more than food. I think we can look at it and also ponder how we look at everything God gives us. Are we wasteful about our home, our family, our vehicle, our friends, our possessions, our body, our land, or our time? Are we wasteful of our thoughts, emotions, spirit, presence, or life? Are we wasteful of our skills or talents? Are we wasteful of our impressions, expressions, guidance, or care?
There are many ways to be wasteful. It isn’t just throwing away leftovers instead of eating them or forgetting that something was in the fridge and letting it go bad. Wasteful can be in many forms. It can be in the form of not keeping up the maintenance on your vehicle or not letting things get in a state of disrepair, so they don’t last as long as their potential duration. Being wasteful can come in the form of not valuing a person, their talents, or skills that God puts into your path. Wastefulness can come in the form of not embracing the “personal development” opportunities that God puts in front of you. I am thinking about all those times when God says to reach outside of our comfort zone and rely on Him and we say…. “No, we are too scared.” I am sure we could spend all kinds of time pondering about the meaning of wastefulness. There are so many ways to be wasteful!
Now, let’s consider not only our own wastefulness, but also the wastefulness of those around us. Are we convicted for just our own wastefulness or are we also convicted for not trying to dissuade the wastefulness in others? It might seem like we are only convicted about our own wastefulness. After all, in Deuteronomy 24:16 (KJV) we read, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” That doesn’t sound like we are to be convicted for other people’s wastefulness. However, we also have verse like Colossians 3:16 which tells us to admonish one another and Hebrews 10:24 which tells us to provoke each other to do good things. So, maybe we are convicted if we don’t at least encourage others not to be wasteful or show them that it isn’t a good thing to do. Maybe we can even brainstorm ways to be less wasteful. And, of course it is always good to encourage each other to use our gifts, talents, blessings, resources, knowledge, thoughts, feelings, time, and life to the fullest.
There is something else about John 6:12 that we can wonder. Do you know what it is? Are you wondering it too? We all know that God knows all and can do all. He knew how much each would eat. So, how come when He multiplied the fish and barley, He didn’t make just enough? I know I sometimes make extra on purpose, so that I can use it for multiple meals and in different ways. That way, I don’t always have to cook every meal. I can just pop something in the microwave. (Well, my hubby does most of the cooking, because I don’t care for cooking. But… I have cooked and have done that, and so does he.)
But, it isn’t like the disciples were just going to gather the leftovers, wrap them in foil or plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge. They gathered the leftovers into baskets, which they would probably have to carry for quite a distance. So, why create the extra food, so that they would have to carry it?
Obviously, we may not ever know the real answer to that. We might not even be called to question it. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t to teach us multiple things. Maybe it was as pragmatic as the fact that He knew that Jesus and the disciples would need food to eat later on. Maybe it was to tell us that it is okay to have leftovers and they should be valued as well as the original meal.
The reason could be something above and beyond the pragmatic though. It could be that God wants to show us that when we give thanks, when we ask, and when we have faith, that He can and will give us even something even better and even more than what we ask. It could be to show us that He is an awesome God and cares for us and provides for us more than we can ever imagine. What do you think?
Thank you for being such an awesome God. Thank you for creating us and for providing for us. Thank you for the meaning blessings, gifts, and resources you give us. Thank you for the love you have for us. Thank you for your Word and for your Son, Jesus. Help us to not be wasteful, but to be thankful and value the gifts you give us instead. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective questions for John 6:12 (KJV):
*What does John 6:12 mean to me?
*What are all the ways it means to be wasteful?
*Am I wasteful?
*In what ways and in what areas of my life am I wasteful?
*Do I encourage others to not be wasteful?
*Am I thankful for the gifts and blessings God gives me?
*What other verses remind me of John 6:12?
*What other verses help me to understand John 6:12?
*What can I do to better heed the words in John 6:12?
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Happy Thanksgiving! Have a great week! And... remember to be mindful about wasting. God bless.
This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.