You Give Them Something to Eat

At our most recent Wednesday night service (Lutherans often do this during Lent), the gospel reading was the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand taken from the book of Luke. Our pastor had an interesting take on this familiar story. He focused in on the fact that the disciples were whining, telling Jesus to send the crowd away. After all, it would soon be evening, and all these people needed to eat. It made sense. Instead of acquiescing, however, Jesus issues what amounts to a command:

“…’You give them something to eat.'”

As usual, the disciples don’t get it. There’s simply not enough food to go around. What are they expected to do? Jesus just wants them to cooperate with Him, to trust Him. Even though they’ve seen Jesus heal and perform other miracles, they doubt. So, He guides them, step by step. Have the people sit down, He tells them. He blesses the bread and fish and instructs the disciples to distribute it. Lo and behold, everyone there ate–not just a bite or two, either. They ate enough to be satisfied, with leftovers to boot!

The point our pastor made is this: we need to put ourselves in this story. The world is full of hungry people. Some are hungry for food, but many more are hungry for hope and for a purpose in life. We, the church, have the food that they need–food for the body, and also food for the soul. We have the gospel, and Jesus has commanded us to share it with others. Our job is to go and tell–Jesus will make sure that what we offer is more than enough. We can trust Him to do that.

For more about trusting God see these posts:

When Things are Unclear–Trust God

Grow Through Surrender and Trust

Trust and Obey

The Wrong Bread

“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 labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”  John  6:27

These words of Jesus are to the crowds who follow Him after he feeds 5000 people with five barley loaves and a few fish.  Who wouldn’t follow?  Free food for life, and all I have to do is listen to this rabbi.  What a deal!  Jesus sets them straight.  This food will only fill us up temporarily;  the food we really needs leads to eternity.

Times have changed, but people haven’t.  Human beings are focused on the needs they perceive as primary, starting with food and shelter, moving on to love, self esteem, and other things that make life worthwhile(remember Maslow’s Hierarchy?).  We spend our time chasing after them, only to find in the end we’re still not completely fulfilled.  That’s because, as Saint Augustine said:

Sometimes we also seek Jesus for the wrong reasons;  we think Christianity will make our life easy;  we want to have “nice” friends; we want to be admired and respected for our piety;  we may even think God will bless us by making us successful in a worldly way. These things aren’t only wrong, they aren’t even necessarily true.  We need to seek Jesus because of who He is:  the way and the truth;  the bread of life;  the only one who can truly satisfy all our hungers.