The rapid spread of Corona/Covid-19 across the globe led to the shutdown of many countries. The aftermath of the crisis is severe on the global economy as the successive lockdowns have caused significant disruption across various sectors.
As per reports, lockdowns and restrictions on commercial activities and people gatherings are likely to continue to impede domestic and global economic growth rate. We look at the gnomic and universalistic significance of the Johannine narrative in this context.
The event of feeding the 5000 in 6:1-15 demonstrates several crises. The narrator gives a description of the gathering: “a great crowd of people” (6:2a); “a great crowd coming” (6:5); and “about 5000 of them” (6:10).
People started following Jesus “because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick” (6:2). Jesus tests Philip with a poignant question: “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (6:5b). Philip responds: “Eight months wages would not buy enough for each one to have a bite!” The situation is critical: a large crowd (6:2a); many among them are sick (6:2b); there is scarcity of food and resources (6:5-6); and there is an economic crisis (6:7).
The Corona pandemic brought in a similar situation in different parts of the world. While Philip sees an absolute impossibility (6:7), Andrew encounters a possibility (6:8-9) when he meets a boy who is ready to share his limited resources.
Here, the boy becomes a public benefactor. Jesus takes the available resources, gives thanks, and distributes among the hungry. It was enough and more for those who gathered there. In fact, there were 12 baskets full of loaves in excess. Crisis management is an art of Jesus.
The whole world is submerged into darkness. People are incapacitated; they are fearful about their safety, and they are unable to extend their helping hands. In John, the disciples of Jesus are in a “crisis” situation (6:16). They set across the lake (6:17a); in darkness (6:17b); facing a strong wind and rough waters (6:18); row the boat (6:19a); and in a “terrified” situation (6:19b). But Jesus comes with a promising voice: “It is I; don’t be afraid” (6:20).
Jesus is our benefactor and our helping hand, particularly when we are in midst economic crisis or in a remote location facing dark realities of life. Indeed, He is “Bread from Heaven” (6:35, 38, and 48).
Rev Dr Johnson Thomaskutty serves as the Associate Professor of New Testament at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
For Other Articles by Dr Johnson Thomaskutty
A Man Born Blind and his Discipleship Model (John 9:1-41)