Monday, August 17, 2009

from John 6: Jesus feeding the 5000

Somebody googled activities for John 6.

In this chapter, you have a few short stories that are part of a longer story. These are just my usual observations and questions with some activity ideas thrown in. Some are questions and activities for children. Some are questions for us ponder. The simple story is that a little boy shared. Jesus took a little bit of food and fed ALOT of people but see what else you can see and respond to.

John 6:1-15

The story of Jesus feeding the 5000 is a good example of Jesus using a child in their midst - one child among a group of adults.

Andrew and Phillip take noticeably different roles in this story.

Jesus is healing people and draws a big crowd of people and they follow him. After a while Jesus and his small group of 12 disciples (students, followers, friends, helpers) retreat to the mountainside. But the 5000 people don't go away. They're still coming. Apparently the boy is there with Jesus and the 12 withdrawing to the mountainside with them. That's interesting. [kid concepts: crowd, big groups, small groups, how do we get better when we're sick, mountainside, getting away from people, wanting to be with your friends]

Jesus' first thought isn't "Make them go away. I'm tired. This is our private small group time." Jesus says, "They've been following us around all this time, they need to eat. How can we feed them?" He doesn't say, "Let's share what we have." He assumes someone will need to go somewhere and buy bread. He asks a particular disciple, "Is there a place close by where we can go and buy them enough bread to eat?"

The disciple responds, "Do you realize how much that will cost? 8 months wages wouldn't be enough money." 8 months' wages for one or for 12? We don't know. [kid concepts: cost of feeding people, sharing even when there's only a little bit to share, Jesus' ability to increase and multiply whatever we're willing to give.] It's interesting that Jesus doesn't just feed everyone miraculously without talking about buying bread. It's interesting that He isn't the one who points to the child and turns that food into food for the crowd. It's also interesting that Jesus doesn't tell the crowd they have to be saved before he feeds them.

So the little boy is the hero. We could say this little boy isn't thinking about money or strategic details - he offers Jesus and his helpers what he has. We could. But wait, I always thought the little boy volunteered but it doesn't say that. In this version of the story Andrew volunteers the boy asking, "How far will this go?" Was the little boy carrying food for Andrew? For the disciples? I'm thinking 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish was alot of food for one boy to be carrying around all day for himself. But we don't know.

So you have a mountainside, a grassy place to sit and eat barley bread, and (I assume dried) fish. Activity: Did you ever eat loaves of barley bread and dried fish on a mountainside by a huge lake? Places to go. Foods to try!

You have Jesus starting with not enough for everyone and as they pass the food around no one is left hungry and there are leftovers. Something to try - not because Jesus will multiply it for your class (though He might). Activity: Talk about how much is enough food for your class? How much is enough with leftovers? Start with food that the kids are used to eating - an amount that doesn't seem like enough and start dividing it up and passing it out. When you're done is everyone full? Do you have leftovers? What did Jesus do?

Activity: Do you have a picture of 12 people? Do you have a picture of 5000 people? Have the kids been to a gathering of 5000 people? What if they were all hungry at the end of a day. What if the pastor looked at you and said, "Let's feed all these people. Where can we buy bread?" And someone said, "Here is a child with a bag lunch. How far will that go?"

8 month's pay. How much money would that be for most of the people in your congregation? Would it buy bread for 5000 people? Do you think Jesus carried 8 month's wages around in his pocket so he could just buy bread for 5000 people if they happened along? Activity: How much allowance does a child in your class get? How much will she have in a month? In 8 months? How many children will it feed?

Activity: Let each child draw and color 5 small loaves of bread to scale and 2 small fishes or use a template. Give each child a pair of scissors. Let the kids cut them up to feed as many people as they can. Or use real food! How many pieces will you have? How big? How many children will they feed? Will the people have enough to eat or do you think they will be hungry?

When everyone had enough to eat, these men (Jesus' helpers) gathered up all the leftovers in 12 baskets (each helper had a basket?). First, there were leftovers implying that everyone was full. Do you have kids who don't know what it is to eat 'til they're full? Second, they collected the leftovers. They didn't waste any of the food. It seems, they had more food leftover than they started with. Activity: Do you throw away food in your class? What can you do with it? Did you ever cook a meal and have more leftovers than the amount of food you started with?

Activity: If your kids like math . . . it looks like Jesus did something outside basic math. If you take a piece of paper or a pita bread and cut it up into 8 pieces is it the same amount of paper as what you started with? Usually - but not in this story.

For us grown-ups the end of the story is quite interesting. Jesus healed people. Jesus fed people. Miracles! The people proclaim Jesus as the prophet sent by God. God's prophesy fullfilled! Wasn't that true? Wasn't that what God wanted people to understand - for people to see Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah? Small complication: the Romans are in charge. Still, the people say, "Let's make Jesus our king!" 5000 people saying, "Let's force Him to be our king?" Whoa! Activity: You could act it out.

But Jesus withdrew to a mountain by himself. Jesus went off by himself more than once in the gospels. Activity: Talk about alone time with the kids. What? When? Where? Why? How do you like to be alone? Why is it good to get away by yourself? Is there a safe place for you (the child) to go when you want to be alone? Do parents understand that kids need alone time? Do children understand that sometimes adults need alone time?

Lots to do with this story. You won't be able to do all of this in one lesson. But you may find that one class takes the story in one direction, another class may follow the story in another direction. Tell the story. See what kinds of questions, comments, observations come from your children.

And this is only the first part!!

1 comment:

  1. another know how you make paper dolls that are all attached to each other (accordian fold, trace a shape so you don't cut through the folds at some point on each side). Try it with a loaf. Try it with a fish...