Bread and Life? – Part 1
It is easy to get lost in the miracles of Jesus, but miss the application that He was trying to make. While I was sitting with Him a couple weeks ago, He brought an old story into a whole new light.
At first, I was perplexed about it all. I didn’t understand how it all connected. Then, as I allowed myself to sit longer and go over it again with Him, He opened my eyes to what He wanted to show me. God’s word is alive and has so many rich truths in it for us to grasp and hold onto.
Let’s travel back to the story of John 6. Jesus and His disciples had traveled to a wilderness type area by the shores of the Sea of Galilee. A massive crowd had gathered. They were amazed by the healings the Lord had done. They had never seen anything like it, so their curiosity drove them to pursue Him.
Jesus and His disciples went up the mountain to have a moment to themselves while the crowd waited below. As the other gospels had mentioned, it was getting late in the day. The people had been listening to Jesus for a while. They were hungry and would have to travel to find somewhere to spend the night.
Jesus took the opportunity to test one of His disciples’ faith. “He asked Philip, ‘Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?’ … for He Himself knew what He was going to do.
Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.’
One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish – but what are they for so many?’ Then Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’” John 6:5-10)
The mass of people, 5,000 men plus women and children, sat down and waited. No one could have imagined what would happen next.
“Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated – so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.” John 6:11
Have you ever wondered why we say a prayer before a meal? It is easy to fall into the religious routine of quickly praying so we can chow down without acknowledging the reason behind it. Jesus reminded me of this as I read verse 11.
We are called to live a life that follows Jesus. Whenever He broke bread, He would give thanks to the Father. We are to thank Him for His provisions for us. It keeps us mindful that it is not by our own means that we have food. It is all from the Father. By giving thanks, we are giving the glory back to Him for the love and abundance He’s given to us.
There were two more significant things that stood out in this passage:
1) The fact that the Lord is the source of our every need. The people were hungry. They chose to follow Jesus and try to understand Him more. They may have only been there for the miracles, but Jesus’ heart of compassion saw their need and fulfilled it anyway. He made little into abundance. What we would have thought impossible, He made possible.
So often we look at things from our human standards and feel like our situations are impossible. There’s no way God can work with what we have. Yet, this passage should remind us that He has given us everything we need to do what He wants to do in us. That means our character, our bodies, our material possessions, etc.
Everything we have is what the Lord has equipped us with to do what He’s asked us to do. It is all enough. So, when we’re questioning something He’s called us to, when we’re not sure where the money is going to come from for our bills, we can be assured that He has it all. He will provide the way if we seek Him.
2) The people had “as much as they wanted” (vs. 11). The bread and fish were so abundant that it was more than the people needed. Their stomachs were satisfied. It wasn’t that they all ate a couple little chunks of bread and a tiny piece of fish. These people had a feast. So much so that, “When they were full, [Jesus] told His disciples, ‘Collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.’ So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten.” (vs. 12-13).
The Lord is so good to us. Though not every season is as abundant as this moment, His love and provisions goes beyond all we could ask or imagine.
“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us – to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
When the Lord sees fit to provide a miracle in our lives, we must remember to give thanks and praise to Him, for it is only Him that can do it. We need to keep open hands and obedient hearts in it and not rush ahead in our own ways afterwards.
Because of this great miracle, the crowd said, “This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!’ Therefore, when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself” (John 6:14-15)
As humans, we like to try to lean on our own understanding of situations and things. If the people had taken Jesus by force and made Him king, then the Lord’s desires and the Scriptures would not have been fulfilled. Thankfully the Lord’s wisdom and knowledge is much greater than our own. He knew what the people were going to try to do, so He withdrew.
When we receive an abundance, or experience a great time from the Lord, it is so easy to want to take our own understanding and run with that desire. It is difficult to sit in the excitement and ask the Lord what’s next.
Something we can learn from this reading is the need to be patient. We can testify of God’s goodness towards us, but we must not allow our own human understanding or excitement to cloud our judgement. Thank the Lord for His provision and continue to seek Him for what He wants you to do with it, and what your next steps are to be. If you want Him to receive glory, this action will glorify Him that much more.
Though this passage was profound in itself, it only lays the framework for something greater that Jesus would share with the people later on in the chapter. We will explore this next week.
Is there something powerful the Lord has done in your life this week? Rejoice, be grateful, and give God the glory and praise He deserves.