Are you starving or well fed?
Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is,the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountain side and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5When 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?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 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.
12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Another day with Jesus, another sign pointing to the abundant blessing that he brings.
Here in John 6, a large crowd has been following Jesus because of the signs (or miracles) that he’s been performing (verse 2). It’s still not clear who Jesus is or what he has come to do, but the crowd is so intrigued by Jesus that they follow him to an isolated place with little thought as to where their next meal would come from.
The disciples are worried as to how their meagre supplies will feed a crowd of 5000 men (plus women and children) – but Jesus uses this situation to perform another sign which hints to the abundance his death will bring. He takes the five loaves and two fish, feeds the crowd, and then has the disciples gather the abundant leftovers – twelve baskets of bread.
The disciples had real reasons to doubt Jesus. They had little food or money, so it makes sense that they would worry as to how the crowd would be fed. However Jesus’ actions tell a different story. Despite all facts and appearances, the people don’t go hungry. In fact, they were so well fed that there were abundant leftovers. On the surface, the disciples might have been tempted to think that Jesus hadn’t provided for them, or that he’d failed them altogether. However Jesus provided for them – and not just what they needed, but abundantly. There was more food than they could possibly eat.
This story isn’t promising us that Jesus will always provide food for us – or that he’ll always provide for our material needs in abundance. Jesus never makes that promise. So what is this sign pointing towards? Like in John 2, it’s pointing towards Jesus’ glory – that is, his suffering and death. The abundant wine, and now the abundant bread are signs of the abundant life we now have, because Jesus has died and has sent the Spirit to live in our hearts. Our greatest need is a good relationship with God, and we have this in abundance through the Spirit. Before Jesus, we were spiritually starving – but now with the Spirit we are well fed.
Head: Which material “needs” distract you from your need of working on your relationship with God?
Heart: How would you describe your relationship with God? Starving, well fed, or somewhere in between?
Hands: What practical steps can you take to feed your relationship with God today?
Prayer: Father God, my greatest need is to know you. Thanks that you have made knowing you possible through the gift of the Spirit. I have all I need because of him. Please help me to remember this in the busyness of today. Please help the little concerns of the day not overtake my need to relate to you and to keep growing as your child in the abundance of your Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: O Breath of Life