Do You Love Bread As Much As I Do? (Article 18-10)
Today, we see countless charity and non-charity organizations working toward feeding and clothing what seems to be an endless supply of people who ail from the effects of poverty. This is not only true today, but was also true during Jesus’ time on earth. I suspect you, as I do, feel inadequate and overwhelmed in meeting the needs of the poor. However, let me offer a different perspective in feeding the hungry. Yes, we as believers are called to feed the poor, but also know that the bread we should feed them is not to just meet their physical needs, but more importantly, their spiritual needs. Our aim should always to feed man by leading them to the “Bread of Life,” for if we as disciples are to be like Christ, then we need to reflect on what Christ’s focuses on when feeding the hungry.
The Impossible Is Possible
Christ’s feeding of the multitudes (Feeding of the Five Thousand) (John 14:13) is a miracle recorded in all four gospels. In fact, the feeding of the five thousand was much higher. More than likely, the multitudes numbered closer to 15,000 to 20,000 people for scripture tells us that “Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (John 14:21). As you read this scripture, note that the disciples faced the perplexing problem by calculating how much food they needed to have on hand to feed so many people, and with this, the amount of money it would cost to buy enough food to feed so many people. I suspect they were also trying to figure out that even if they had the money to buy the food, where in the world would they go to buy it? I don’t know about you, but I can get stressed on how to feed a party of 6 people, never mind 15,000 to 20,000 people. In any case, there certainly wasn’t any Walmart Supermarkets nearby to purchase the food, for they were in a deserted place. After considering all these factors, the disciples concluded there was only one logical solution. Tell the multitudes to go away and to buy their own food. They saw the needs of the multitude as a feat too great to overcome and a great personal burden. But Christ was not concerned at all about feeding so many, nor was He concerned about the burden of doing so, for the feeding of their bodies was of no consequence to Him. In fact, He converted five loaves of bread and two fish into more food than the multitudes could consume. Christ was in total control of the situation and was more than sufficient to meet their physical needs. What did burden Him was the feeding of their souls. From this, Christ wants us to learn to look at people in need (rich or poor) through His eyes and as a result, to have compassion and take delight in not just possibly having to meet their physical needs, but most importantly, meeting their spiritual needs. It is from this plane of understanding that we see the “Feeding of the Multitudes” not just as a miraculous event, but as a parable to understand and live by.
The Message In Not About Feeding Stomachs
See, this isn’t just a story about feeding hungry stomachs. This is about the spiritual satisfaction that Jesus brings to all who feed on Him as the bread of life. As He says (John 6:35), “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” As Paul put it (Ephesians 1:3), God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” When Jesus was dealing with the Samaritan woman at the well, the disciples were focused on the physical needs of the flesh when they urged Christ to eat. (John 4:31). But Jesus was not focused on feeding His flesh, but rather focused on the spiritual food of doing His Father’s will. To support this point, His response to the disciples was “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” (John 4:32). His food was the will of the Father who had sent Him to finish His work. (John 4:34). The disciples, as many of us do, looked at things from an earthly and fleshly plane of understanding. As it relates to the feeding of the multitudes, the disciples were focused on figuring out how much money it would take to buy bread for so many people? The multitude was also focused on the physical. They had no concern about the food that endures to eternal life, for they had no understanding of the New Covenant of Grace. This was Christ’s greatest concern, for them to hear and understand the New Covenant and choose the “Bread of Life” above all things, and with it reconciled back to God.
What is Christ’s Approach to Feeding the Hungry?
How does Christ feed the hungry? He does so by using us to meet the needs of the people. John does not specifically state what the other gospels state, that Jesus used the disciples to distribute the bread and fish to the people. But he does show how Jesus involved Philip and Andrew and it’s only from John that we learn that the five loaves and two fish came from a boy’s lunch. Seeing the multitudes, Jesus asked Philip, how are we going to buy enough bread to feed all these people? (John 6:5). In verse 6; however, we see that this was not a problem for Christ at all, for He already had an answer. What was important was to test Philip’s trust (faith) in Him. Jesus easily could have prayed and called down bread from heaven without involving anyone else. But He used people, including a boy and his pitiful lunch, to meet the needs of other people. If you know Him, He wants to use you to meet others’ needs. Second, note that Christ often uses people who are inadequately resourced to help people to feed the poor. Jesus could have looked around the crowd for the obviously rich and appealed to them for the funds to feed the crowd. He could have asked those with plenty of food to share. But instead, He used people who were painfully inadequate to meet this overwhelming need. An important message here is that if you think that you’re adequate or competent to serve the Lord, you’re not ready to serve Him. If you think that you’re just a “poor” Christian with no means to do God’s work, then you should think again.
What Christ Wants Us to Understand
Today, people come to Jesus because they need physical healing or they need a job or they need Him to solve some pressing problem. He can meet those needs and He often does, providing it’s what is best for us according to our Father’s will. Jesus wants us to see and understand that we all have a deeper need: We need to be reconciled to the holy God. Jesus provided the only way for that to happen by giving Himself on the cross. No matter how great our sins may be, Jesus is more than sufficient, just as He was in the physical needs of the multitudes, more than sufficient to meet our spiritual needs. With this, Jesus is able to forgive our sins and save us from God’s judgment. In sum, Jesus Christ is powerfully sufficient to meet all our needs, especially our need to be reconciled to God.
Although this story may appear to be just another account of Christ’s miracles, there is more to meditate on. It is a parable that shows Christ’s love and compassion for all of us and the basis for His compassion has more to do with feeding the souls of the “giver” who is adequately resourced to give and the “receiver” who is inadequately resourced to supply himself. Remember, that Christ did not come to feed the hungry so they may have a more pleasing life on earth, but rather came as the “bread of eternal life” and with it, our reconciling back to God.