A crowd gathered, assessed the landscape, and developed their strategies.
Some would win while others would lose. Yet little did they know that a life would be lost or the part they would play in the event.
The clock struck twelve, and all hell broke loose.
Chaos. Pushing. Pulling. Screaming.
This wasn't a war zone; this was Black Friday in Long Island.
With half-digested turkey still in their gut and words of thanksgiving fresh off their lips, a crowd trampled a man to death. The craving for gizmos and gadgets literally killed (Source).
Houston, We Have a Problem
Hopefully, you’ve never climbed over another human being in the pursuit of stuff. However, if we’re honest, we all have felt the craving for more.
We live in a place of plenty yet still look at someone else’s situation and think, “Wouldn’t that be nice?”.
But why? Why do we long for something new and shiny, only to lose interest after we get it?
We have a problem; its name is consumerism.
Not only a modern problem
A cool spring breeze gently lifted off the sea of Galilee onto those standing before Jesus. Some knew why they were there; others simply knew they needed to see this miracle-worker in their lifetime.
As the day progressed, Jesus asked Philip an important question:
“Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” - John 6:5
Flabbergasted-Philip responded the same way any sane person would:
“Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” - John 6:7
Surprisingly, another disciple named Andrew threw out a tidbit that there’s a boy with five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:9).
Jesus, the good shepherd, sat the crowd down on green grass and began to mass-produce fish and chips for 5,000 plus people (Psalm 23; John 6:10-14).
What a perfect meal!
As the crowd realized something significant about Jesus (John 6:14), Jesus realized something noteworthy about them:
“Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” - John 6:15
But didn’t Jesus come to establish God’s Kingdom (Mark. 1:14)? Why would Jesus run when the crowd was ready to follow?
Because Jesus knew their actual motive:
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” - John 6:26-31
That sun-blistered crowd wanted what most modern folks want too — to consume.
They didn’t want a king who had absolute authority over their life; they wanted a king who provided free meals, challenging Jesus to be like Moses, who dispersed manna from heaven (John 6:31; Psalm 78:23-25).
Without skipping a beat:
“Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’” - John 6:32-34
They still didn’t get it.
So often, neither do we.
The Lord of Black Friday
This Black Friday (and Cyber-Monday), the opportunity to consume will be legion. Who will be your lord? Jesus or mammon (Matthew 6:24)?
Here are a couple diagnostic questions for you before you make a purchase:
Does this purchase create a sense of worth or identity for me apart from Jesus?
Will my enjoyment of this item move me to worship Jesus as the giver, or are my affections fixated on the gift?
Is my imagination in overdrive, obsessing over what life will be like with this purchase?
Will this purchase free me in some way to love my neighbor or hinder my love?
Many dangers lurk in our world. Let's not underestimate consumerism's attack on our love for Jesus and neighbor.
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