“Jesus feeds the five thousand.” Perhaps it’s my love for food that has me here today? Perhaps I just really enjoy the idea of Jesus turning five carbs into five-thousand?
But Jesus took this cue that I’ve never noticed before, and it’s changing everything.
“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…”
The Passover was at hand. So Jesus looked at the crowd and provoked Philip. Because it was Passover, Jesus did.
“Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” he asked Philip. (v.5)
Incredulous, Philip’s mind begins to race. Perhaps a bit irritated, irked, and suddenly frantic, he sputters, “Two hundred denarii (almost a year’s salary) would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” (v. 7)
Andrew chimes in, mocking the severity of the situation, “There is a boy here who has five barely loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (v. 9)
Desperation–the entire point.
It was outrageous to think the disciples could buy dinner for so many. And it was absurd to consider that one boy’s fish and chips might fill five-thousand stomachs.
But with Passover looming, this was all the point.
How much more outrageous that a whole nation could be forgiven by the blood of lambs being prepared for slaughter on another hillside? Yes, the disciples could more easily provide dinner, the bread could more easily multiply for thousands, than the sacrifice of lambs could provide salvation.
Passover, the greater disparity. That a holy God could be appeased by the blood of animals. That a nation of wicked hearts could be cleansed by perfect livestock.
What the Passover meal and the hillside meal had in common
was a desperate need for Jesus to pick up the tab,
to pay the price, to cover the cost.
“Have the people sit down,” he tells his disciples. (v. 10)
Because the point was never what to feed the people, but Who would feed the people. And we all sit down to watch the work of Christ on our behalf, to accept the miraculous provision he offers.
And it’s enough. Five loaves of bread and two fish, in the hands of the Bread of Life, enough. More than.
The very next Passover Jesus would repeat this scene at an intimate table in an upper room, seating his disciples, washing their feet, breaking his body, feeding their souls. “This is my body, broken for you.” They would eat and be satisfied, the blood would flow, and full salvation would come.
And now Jesus sits, all the work completed, all the Law fulfilled, all the redemption finished. Waiting for the final feast, the wedding feast of the Lamb. Where we all sit, resting from works because Jesus has provided and prepared the meal, all that we need. Where we eat at his glorious table forever and ever. No longer on a hillside or a table of remembrance, but in the very presence of Life, made whole in the broken body of Christ. Enjoying him endlessly.
Until that day, we rest right here.
“Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” (v. 12)
That the world may whisper mockingly, “But what are these for so many?” That the enemy may well and violently question who we are, what we are worth. “What good can this one do? Why even try? What do you have to offer?”
But we press into the capable hands of Jesus who will do precisely what he wants in and through the seemingly insignificant that we offer. When all our efforts feel like afterthoughts, we can trust him to gather our leftovers so that nothing is lost.
That my life’s accomplishment has nothing to do with how much I offer
and everything to do with the Person to whom I offer it.
Your life’s work has nothing to do with big or small measurements, but only the sufficiency of Christ on your behalf. With Jesus there is nothing too little to matter or too excess to throw away–only perfect glory in the hands of our loving Father. So if what he’s asking seems impossible, whether it’s the toilet needing cleaning today or the ministry he’s inviting you to start, you can rest right here.
He has asked because he wants to show up. Because he wants to dazzle you with the glory of the Gospel. That Jesus takes our nothing and gives everything in return.
“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.” (v. 11)
Take a seat today, beloved. He is handing out Life to those who sit to receive. As much as you want. Until you are full.
The Bread of life was broken for you. Remember. Feast. Rest. Rejoice.
Pause to consider…
- What has God asked you to do that feels entirely overwhelming today? This week? This year?
- Spend a few minutes reading and praying Ephesians 1:11-2:10. Make note of all God’s verbs. Contrast them with all your verbs. Let the Good News of His action on your behalf bring your heart to a place of rest and readiness to walk in the good works He has prepared for you (2:10).