One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?" Jesus said, “Have the people sit down” . . . (John 6:8-9)
Consider this question and respond on a scale of 1-10: As you begin this day (or continue to move through it, depending on when you read this), how would you rate your level of expectancy?
Read the question one more time. Slowly. Note that you are not being asked about your level of excitement about your day. Excitement and expectancy are not the same thing.
Excitement is a pleasure response to what the day holds for us. When we see good things ahead, we’re excited about the day. When the calendar has us engaging with people we really enjoy or doing things that bring us deep satisfaction, we sense within ourselves an eagerness to engage what’s in front of us. The pleasures we see and the energy we feel, we name excitement.
Some of you are looking at your day, and the last thing you feel right now is excitement. Boredom, possibly. Dread, hopefully not. But excitement? Hardly.
“Have the People Sit Down”Expectancy is a cousin to excitement, but not an identical twin. They share a common sense of ‘looking forward’ to something, but being expectant doesn’t require being excited. Expectancy grows in mystery, in the unknown or unclear spaces of what you’re dealing with. Being expectant means you know that something is about to happen – you just don’t know exactly what it is.
This week we’ve been thinking about how Jesus fed an enormous crowd of people with a boy’s sack lunch – five barley loaves and two fish to be precise. Jesus had presented his disciples with the problem of how these people would be fed, where they would get enough bread to go around. John allows us an insider take on the story. Jesus is asking a question, but he already knows what he will do (Jn. 6:6).
Once this meager meal has been placed in Jesus’ hands, he gives a word of instruction to his disciples. “Have the people sit down.”
This is the expectant moment. Philip and Andrew and the others have no idea what Jesus is about to do. The problem they face has not gone away. The crowd in front of them is still large. The only food they have on hand is still worthless to make a difference. But in all of this there is Jesus.
More than We ImagineTo live our days with expectancy means this: our problems don’t go away, but Jesus is with us. And while we don’t know exactly what Jesus will do, we know he will do something.
As the disciples urged people to sit down, spread a cloak or a blanket and get comfortable, Jesus offered a prayer of thanksgiving and began passing the bread. And he kept passing it. He kept on for a long while.
He kept passing bread until everyone was fed – not only fed but full. They didn’t get a quick snack. They received a meal and they had as much as they wanted (6:11-12). When Philip and Andrew were seating the multitude, they had no idea that Jesus would do what he did. To borrow words from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Jesus did “more than they could ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).
That’s what Jesus does. And that’s why you can live this day expectantly, whether you’re excited about your day or not. Place your life in his hands and watch for what he will do.
Prayer:Just like the small lunch that was entrusted to your hands, Lord Jesus, I give to you all that this day holds and all that concerns me. You know what you will do, and that truth alone is enough for me. I will wait and watch expectantly, knowing that you are good and what you do is good. Amen.