More than Just a Free Lunch

John 6

Some days I have trouble feeding my hungry family. It’s not because there isn’t lots of food options in the house (only some of them past-dated). It’s just that sometimes I didn’t plan ahead and I am missing that one ingredient needed for what sounds good, or I am just tired, or it’s simply one of those days I would rather be anywhere but the kitchen. Feeding 5 seems like a rather large chore some days. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would do if I was given the job of feeding 5,000 men! This is definitely time for a miracle!

The Feeding of the 5.000 must have been a favorite event to recall during the time of the early church as it is one of the very few (or, even the only) miracles of Jesus recorded in all 4 gospels. It is fun to see the slight differences each writer brings to their retelling.

Matthew records this event as happening right after Jesus heard about the beheading of John the Baptist(14:13). Mark and Luke recall that the disciples had just returned from their Jesus-appointed “mission trips” and were reporting on all they had experienced. Jesus was definitely looking for a quiet place to be alone with his disciples so he took them to a remote location. But the crowds still found him. As an introvert I love and value the time I have alone with my quiet. But as a follower of Jesus, I must remember so much of the job he would have me do requires connection with others (in-person or even virtually in 2020). Jesus had compassion on the crowd, re-ordered his calendar and priorities, and pushed back his quiet time with God til later (he DID still get his quiet time though – even if it was when most people were sleeping). Luke records, “He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” (9:10).

Today we are reading of the event from John’s gospel. John had been an eyewitness to see so many of Jesus’ miracles, but he chose to include only 7 in his gospel account – one of them being the Feeding of the 5,000. Dr. Joe Martin, New Testament professor at Atlanta Bible College, loves to point out all the details we get from John. Unlike the other gospel writers, John wrote his gospel later in life, when the brain’s old memory bank is overflowing with fun little details of events long past. John is in fact the only author who tells where the 5 loaves and 2 fish came from – the little boy’s lunch. John even includes that the loaves were made of barley (a cheaper grain most often consumed by the poor). He also recalls and includes which disciple said what when. He did all he could to help his readers watch this amazing miracle unfold.

Can you picture yourself in that crowd, stomach growling but not wanting to leave to find food – you don’t want to miss a minute with Jesus. And then, you’re told to sit down and the food starts coming – and coming – and coming. Sure, it is simple barley loaves and fish, but they taste so good and filling. Word passes around that all this food came from one little boy’s lunch. How in the world could so many people eat and be filled with 5 loaves and 2 fish? There was no logical explanation. This man Jesus who had taken the bread and fish and gave thanks to his Father had just performed a miracle and you were there to see it and taste it and fill you up inside. You can’t wait to tell your friends and neighbors about your experience with this man Jesus.

After a retelling of the amazing walking on water scene (which truly deserves a devotion of its own), John includes the teaching Jesus gave calling himself the Bread of Life. Jesus realized that since he had miraculously fed the multitudes he would have a following constantly looking for another free lunch . How could he explain to them that through God’s plan, he (Jesus) could offer them so much more than a free meal that would fade away and be replaced with gnawing hunger again. God’s design was so much greater. Jesus said: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40).

You may have missed the free lunch, but don’t let this offer pass you by!

Remember Jesus’ words to Satan (and recited from what would become Deuteronomy) “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 NIV). Look to God, fill yourself up on His Word and His Son. Nothing else satisfies. Nothing else leads to eternal life but the Bread of Life, the Son of God.

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to on BibleGateway here – John 6.

Tomorrow we will read Matthew 15 and Mark 7 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible reading plan.

Missing the Messiah – Still?

John 5 23 b

John 5

Welcome back for the last time this week!  Thanks for sticking with me this far… just one left before you get to hear from someone MUCH cooler than me!  Let’s take a look at John 5.

Thought #1 – Vs. 1-9: It’s weird to me how this story is glossed over so easily when I think of this chapter and all that it carries.  Jesus cured a man who had been unable to move for nearly 40 years!!  That is huge!  And yet it took me three times of reading this chapter before I decided I should even write about it!  That by itself got me thinking… as someone who grew up in the church, how many of the amazing things that Jesus has done or that the Bible tells us do we gloss over because we’ve heard it multiple times?  For me, that answer is uncomfortably high.  I want to always be amazed by the things Jesus has done, even if I’ve read the story more times than I can count.  I think a huge way of getting to that point is simply to pause.  If this story is familiar to you, take a moment and pause.  Read through it again and try to find something new to you.  If you haven’t read this story often, make sure not to rush through!  Take your time and think about the emotions that would have surrounded this story in an effort to get a deeper understanding of its message.

Thought #2 – Vs. 16-30: So, because Jesus was doing what he was sent to do… the persecution starts.  Because the people didn’t listen to prophets before him, because they were just a little too full of themselves and self-righteous, they missed out on the Messiah and all of the amazing things that he was about to do.  These weren’t even the people you’d expect to miss someone as important as the Messiah!  These were Jewish leaders, people who were intelligent and should have been the most aware of Jesus’ coming.  And yet they missed it, because they were too wrapped up in the law of how it was supposed to look on the Sabbath.  How often do you miss out on something greater, maybe even to the point of intentionally driving it away, because you’re too wrapped up in how it looks on the surface?  Now I am not saying that we should ignore the laws we have, but I am saying that we should be more focused on living a Godly life versus living a life that makes others think we’re living a Godly life.  It is so easy to get sucked into the social media craze that includes Bible verses, pictures in your Sunday best with a quote from the pastor, etc. or in a prayer group that is really a place to gossip about others in the church openly without shame.  None of those things by themselves are wrong necessarily, but more often than not, they can distract us from the true purpose of being a believer in today’s world.  We are called to spread the message of Jesus Christ, and social media can be a very useful tool in that.  We are called to pray for one another and help hold each other accountable.  But all of these things must be done in love, and accompanied by a genuine faith and following of Christ.  Have you gotten sucked in to the less-than-realistic believer mentality that keeps things focused on the surface level?  How can you work to move past that and create a deeper, more genuine faith in Jesus?

Thought #3 – Vs 39-40; 44-47: This is more a continuation of Thought #2 than an individual thought.  Here we see Jesus speaking about those who have put their faith in something or someone other than God.  It’s not that these people he is referring to have put their faith in something unholy, unclean, or sinful, and that is the toughest part for me!  These people are putting their time and effort into studying Scripture, and the words of prophets who speak truth.  And yet, Jesus says that they “refuse to come to [him] to have life.”  In my experience with the COG, we tend to have much smaller church bodies that are very close knit.  I love this!!  BUT, I have seen and heard where that can create problems.  People in authority start to hold more weight than what is being taught, and churches can struggle when certain “higher-ranked” members have opinions or do things differently than what the church is meant to do.  These members are good people, but they are not God.  As a church, as a believer, we must put more faith in God than we do in our own personal congregations and churches if we want to experience the life Jesus Christ can provide through the Father.

Well thank you all for finishing Romans and starting John with me!  I hope that something along the way was beneficial to you; I know I gained a lot from getting to write these 😊

~Sarah Blanchard