“… Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten…” –John 6:2-13
The remarkable story of Jesus feeding the five thousand is nothing short of a miracle and I suppose that is why so many of us remember it from our childhood Sunday school class. It also happens to be one of my favorite passages, with all the depth that is hidden in the corners of each word and sentence; so much so, that I will have to force myself to be short and precise. So, please forgive me for the possible lack of creativity and wit, but this stuff is too good not to share. Can I get an amen? Well, if not now, after you read this and see how amazing God is, I’m sure those “Amens” will come naturally.
The Lord Provides
Friends, please just take a moment and bask in that truth: the Lord provides. Here, we see Him provide food for five thousand grown men basically out of nothing, but if we look all throughout scripture, we will see Him providing exactly what is needed in that exact moment:
- For Adam, it was a wife and a helpmate (Genesis 2:18)
- For Abraham, it was a sacrifice (Genesis 22:14)
- For the Israelites, it was freedom (Exodus 12), protection (Exodus 14:14), daily manna (Exodus 16), water (Exodus 17)… Okay, we will stop there. I’m sure you get the point. God didn’t let His chosen people down.
It is truly evident how Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our Provider, is constantly giving to us in big and small ways.
Jesus was not only able to feed all those grown hungry men with only a few loaves and a couple fish, but they were able to eat “as much as they wanted.” They ate until they were full! How incredible is that? God not only provides, but what He provides is sufficient enough. Again, in Exodus 16, we see that when He provided fresh manna every morning for the Israelites, “Each one gathered just as much as they needed.” God doesn’t just give us a small taste of something in hopes that it will keep us content for a while. No, He gives and gives until we are completely satisfied.
Together we’ve discovered that God is our Provider and gives until we are completely fulfilled. He knows our needs and is faithful to fulfill those. But here’s the thing friend, He doesn’t stop there. In fact, He often gives us more than we even need to the point of overflowing. Remember our friends the Israelites? They were told to collect what manna they needed, but to leave the remainder (Exodus 16:19) and then twice in Leviticus (19:10 and 23:22), the Lord instructs His people to not be greedy but leave a remainder of their harvest for the poor. And lastly, let us not forget those fully satisfied men on the mountain who were instructed to not let anything go to waste (John 6:12). You see, He gives and gives until our hunger is satiated and we are able to give to others what we have freely been given (Matthew 10:8).
(Friend, I just want to acknowledge you and thank you for not giving up!
You’ve stuck with me thus far and now it is time to land the plane…)
Now, keeping in mind all that we’ve covered, let us read John 6:35 together:
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry…’”
Beloved, HE is our bread of life.
HE satisfies our hunger.
HE alone is sufficient.
HE fulfills us to the point of overflowing.
HE is not to be wasted, but to be shared with those in need of HIM.
… If we were to plug this beautiful and humbling truth back into what we originally read, it would read something like this…
“Jesus then took of Himself, gave thanks, and gave all of Himself to those who were seated, as much as they wanted. When they all had been satisfied in Him, He said to his disciples, ‘Gather that which is left. Don’t let any part of my love… my grace… my truth… my sacrifice… perish. Give freely to those what you have been freely given. This bread of life isn’t just for you or to end with you. It is to flow out of you and give others life….’”
Now, how about that “amen?”