Grateful Power


John 6:23 Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord gave thanks.

Edmund Burke said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” I admit I hated history in school. I remember studying the major US conflicts and that’s about it.  And concerning those, I recall general geography, allies and foes, and overall outcomes. No specifics. Most sadly, I’m really foggy on why they started. I agree with Edmund Burke, but I would tailor it a bit: “Those who don’t understand the cause of major historical atrocities are doomed to repeat them.” Certainly a detailed memory of battle names, places, generals and dates is not what saves us from repeating the same thing. It’s understanding the cause, its genesis.

Keep in mind, some history is good to repeat. And understanding the causes of healthy history is no less important. I think the apostle John understood that.

After all, who would describe the feeding of the five-thousand like he did in verse 23? Consider it!  If I wrote this verse, I surely would have recorded “Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread when the Lord fed thousands” or “when the Lord performed the miracle of multiplication.” But never would I have thought to only write “when the Lord gave thanks.”

John seems less interested in what happened than how it happened.

I’m glad he was. We can read and hear about miracles every day and though it may boost our faith that God is mighty and merciful, it does little to instruct us. I’d like a miracle. And sometimes we need a miracle. There may not be a formula for the miraculous work of God’s Spirit today, but John eludes to a pattern or at least a good place to start.


When it’s not enough, we tend to want. When it’s less than hoped for, sadness prevails. When it’s inconsequential, we toss it aside. But “not enough,” “less than” and “inconsequential” were all that the boy had in his basket that day. Jesus took it, gave thanks, and distributed it (v 11). And it was enough. John caught it. The start of it all, the genesis of that miracle was thanksgiving.

We are often confronted with “impossibilities” in life. You may have a mountain to move today and nothing but a John Deere to do it with. You can focus on the mountain or you can give thanks for the tractor. Let’s see what happens. Maybe history will repeat itself.

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