“When they were satisfied, Jesus told the disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.'” – John 6:12 NRSV
Five loaves and two fish. About five thousand ate as much as they wanted. All four gospel accounts* agree there were twelve baskets full of left-overs.
But only in the Gospel according to John does Jesus direct the disciples to gather the fragments so none will be lost.
Fragments. The parts we call left over. Extra bits we try to hide. Pieces we are tempted to toss out. “Gather them up,” Jesus says. Gather up the all the parts of your life that make you you. Not just the happy, pleasing, joyful fragments. Gather up the broken, the hurting, the fragile. Not to discard or to be rid of. But to let Jesus mend or heal or restore or purify. Jesus wants all of it. Jesus wants all of you. For you are valued more than you can imagine – at least 12 times more!
So none will be lost. No one. Not you. Not me. Not friend, family, neighbor, stranger, enemy. Jesus intends that not a single, solitary soul be lost.
“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. …” – John 10:16 NRSV
Jesus has more than one fold! Jesus’ followers are not all alike. Some call on Jesus by another name. God’s people come in an amazing array of endless variety. Look at the crowd on the hillside: 5000 people who were each there for their own reasons. Sinners and saints, skeptics and believers. ALL were fed. None are to be lost.
*The Feeding of the Five Thousand is the only miracle story told by all four gospel writers. See Matthew 14:31-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-14.