A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. John 6: 2
One of the favorite places that I visited, during my first trip to Israel-Palestine, was the Church of the Multiplication of Fishes and Loaves in Tabgha, Galilee. I am always reminded of this moment, when we read one of the Gospel stories of Jesus feeding the crowds with
five loaves of bread and two fish. There is an altar there with a rock under it that legend says was the boulder Jesus stood on to bless and break the fish and loaves. I was in my final year of seminary and was only able to make the pilgrimage through the generosity of the Seminary who gave me a grant for the journey. After praying in the sanctuary, I wandered down to the beach on the Sea, just a few hundred yards away, and looked out over it. I remember imagining Jesus there, standing with me, somehow assuring me of His goodness in my life as I prepared to enter ordained ministry.
The abundance of Jesus’ love and grace has never been, for me, tied to His healing of my sick mother (which didn’t happen), saving my children from challenge (He hasn’t), or making me less vulnerable to the temptations and vagaries of my own life and ministry (still working at it). Jesus Himself, His presence, love, and willingness to suffer with me and for me, are the signs of His healing, mercy, and hope in my life and for the life of the world. May we follow Jesus not because of His wonders, His teachings, or His compassion, though they are good enough reasons by themselves. Yet, may we follow Jesus because, out of the abundance of His grace and love, He stood at the gate of death and walked through it, for our sakes.