Five Thousand Mouths to Feed

As I think I have said before, I am studying through the book of John this year with a group of women from my church. Y’all, it is wonderful. The word of God is so powerful and getting together with His girls to walk through it and then having it taught over me is just so. good.

So here we are, in John 6 – Jesus feeds the five thousand. Let’s just read it together. I know it’s a familiar story to some of us, but just take a minute to read it carefully again.

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

Readers, friends, there’s a lot here. The Lord truly never wastes anything. The timing – at Passover; the location – on the mountain; who He is with – his disciples, this hungry multitude, the test that Phillip flounders and Andrew comes up average; the poor boy with his sorry lunch sack, and the Power and the prayer that fills bellies and overflows baskets.

I learn from Phillip not to miss that the Lord Almighty is standing right in front of me; He is the answer.
I pray that the Lord be my vision, that I pray big and stay small before Him.
I am encouraged by Andrew’s faith; though halting faith, he still sought a solution and brought the little he could before the Lord and knew He could do something. (right!?)
I pray I bring my all to the Lord that He may use it, multiply it, bless others through it.
I want to be just like this unnamed, insignificant poor boy, who offers his measly poor lunch sack for who knows what will happen to it.
I pray, Lord, you will use me, insignificant and insufficient, to become more than enough for your Name as I give my all to You.

Truly, like Emily, our study’s fearless leader, taught, it matters not what you ask, but who you ask. It matters who you trust, not how much trust you have. A gift matters in whose hands you place it.

Then, this massive multitude – sat down. SAT DOWN. Now that’s something to me. It’s a huge endeavor to get just our extended family on holidays to all sit down together. Think about over five thousand people!
And I learn from these – sometimes the Lord calls us to sit down to receive. Let’s be still and know that He is God. Let’s rest in Him and receive all of who He is.

It’s interesting. John takes more time to recount the discussion between Jesus, Phillip, and Andrew than he does to write the prayer of Jesus – and the miracle that follows.

The Lord thanks the Father. We can learn from Him – praise the Lord. Let’s be a grateful people. The Father has met our needs – daily, physical needs, as well as our greatest need, salvation and love, in Christ. Praise the Lord for He is praiseworthy!

Then the people eat their fill. Their bellies are full and they feel good. The disciples have dispersed the fish and bread. And with baskets, they gather leftovers, twelve baskets overflowing with bread. WOW!

We know, because we have read the end of the story, that though these men, women, and children’s tummies were satisfied, their souls were not. Jesus taught a hard teaching – that He was the Bread of Life, that they were to eat of Him and live. Grumbling, complaining, and taking offense at His words and that He would not continue to satisfy their perceived needs, many did not continue to follow Him. Many turned away.

Jesus is the Bread of Life. His body was broken for the world. He is offered to everyone to be received freely. He is the satisfier of our souls; He is eternal life for all of those who believe. But this can be a hard teaching. Some grumble, some complain, and many turn away and leave Jesus. The Bible says that the Gospel is foolish to those who are perishing.

For us, for those of us who believe in Jesus as their Savior, as the Satisfier of their soul, who have accepted His love and His life, we know that the Gospel is Life. He fills us with His timeless truth that eternally saves and satisfies.

And as we strive to live in the reality of the Gospel, we learn through Christ’s example, we learn through this sign when He fed the five thousand men, that when the temporal of this world is consigned to dust, we have invested our lives in what lives on forever. We have lived for Christ. Christ is life.

We can say – because we have believed and come to know, like Peter at the end of John 6 – with Jim Elliot, that to give up what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose is certainly not foolish, is certainly the most wise way to live. This is a matter of believing, of breathing in His life, of eating of the Bread of Life.

Christ, the Bread of Life, broken for you and for me, is necessary for life. He is suitable for everyone, and we all need Him every day. We can never over indulge in Christ.

Let’s sit down and in a miracle transpiring enjoy a meal with the Bread of Life. Next time we take part in Communion with our local body, eat the bread, which represents Christ’s body broken for you and me, and drink from the cup, the drink that represents Christ’s blood shed for you, for me. Praise the Lord that He is Life, and that He makes life worth it all. Eat your fill of Christ and be satisfied in the Savior of your soul. And when we walk away from the table, let’s give up grumbling and complaining. In exchange, let’s put on the practice of praising the Lord, which will prepare us for Heaven.