Theme: Withdrawal of the King
This week we see how God can use us, despite our empty hands.
But Jesus said, “They need not go away; iyou give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”
All I have said about our impotence leads directly to the next and third lesson, for the story is meant to direct us to the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. That is what John 15 :5 says, after all. The last part stresses our inability to do anything, but it does this so we will draw on Jesus’ resources: “if a man remains in me and l in him, he will bear much fruit.” Only after that does it say, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
We can bear fruit, indeed, “much fruit” (v. 5) and even “fruit that will last” (v. 16). But this will only be the case if Jesus is working through us since he alone is able to meet anyone’s spiritual need.
In this story Jesus meets the need of the crowds abundantly. He took the five loaves of bread and two fish, directed the people to sit down and then, looking to heaven and thanking God for the food, he broke the food and distributed it to the people. The story concludes by saying, “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over, The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children” (vv. 20, 21).
That is worth some serious reflection. In the first place, having enough food was a serious matter in the ancient world, because the rains would often fail, crops would wither and people would starve. In our day, when we want something to eat all we have to do is go to the store and buy it. But in biblical times if a person had enough food to eat, it was a gift from God and something for which to be particularly thankful. People knew that God alone provided food. Isaiah told the people, “if you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land” (lsa. 1:19). Likewise David wrote of God’s blessings, saying, “The poor will eat and be satisfied,- those who seek the Lord will praise him” (Ps. 22:26).
Jesus was building on this natural anxiety and the awareness that it is God who supplies our daily bread when he told those of his day, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). He meant that we will never find full spiritual satisfaction unless we find it in himself.
Jesus was building on this natural anxiety and the awareness that it is God who supplies our daily bread…
It is John who develops this thought fully by following the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand with Jesus’ sermon on the bread of life, but the other gospels have the same truths in mind. Therefore, it is right to ask at this point: Have you found Jesus to be sufficient for your spiritual need? Have you come to him? Have you been fed by him? Do you come to him now on a regular basis expecting to be fed?
If you do, I am sure you have found that not only are you satisfied, but there is even an abundance left over, which is merely a way of saying, we can never exhaust God. I readily admit that the needs of other people drain us. Some are so needy that the church staff sometimes refer to them as bottomless pits. But there is no pit so deep or hole so black that Jesus cannot fill it or bring light. He will satisfy you, if you will go to him.
Maybe you have been like the prodigal in the far country. You thought that life was to be enjoyed without the presence of your heavenly Father. So you have been squandering the inheritance he gave you, and you have come to the point when your stomach and heart are empty and you know that you have been filling yourself with the slop that is fed to pigs. You are starving, miserable, abandoned and alone. You need to do what the prodigal did. He came to his senses, saying, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him; Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son – make me like one of your hired men” (Luke 15:17-19). When he confessed his sin and returned to his father, he found his father waiting for him. The father received him with open arms and lavished the riches of his household on him.
Then they had a party. The father said, “Quickly bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again – he was lost and is found” (vv. 22-24). I promise that if you go back to Jesus, you will never find that he is begrudging to you or insufficient for your need.
What did Jesus mean by saying some would never be hungry or thirsty?
If you go back to Jesus, you will never find that he is begrudging to you or insufficient for your need.