Summary: Are you looking for short term fixes to your life or long term solutions? Are you looking for a leader to get you out of a jam or a savior to bring you into peace?
Years ago there was an ad campaign by a certain maker of bread: "Wonder, it builds a body 12 ways" or something like that. I sort of pictured this incredibly wonder-ful food that after you ate it you turned into Superman or something. In reality it was bread made of white flour. The problem with white bread is that it is full of carbs that rev you up and then leave you needing more right away. It wasn’t until much later I learned that there are other kinds of breads that last longer in your stomach.
No, we’re not going to trade favorite bread recipes here on "Eating Right With Pastor Tom" :-). But today we see a group of people who thought that getting a quick fix to their immediate problem was the only thing they needed. Jesus has much better bread for them and for us.
1 - 13
This is one of the accounts that appears on all four gospels. John makes it sound as if Jesus brought up the problem of the people not having enough food, whereas the other gospels suggest the disciples brought it up first. It could be that the disciples asked the question and Jesus turned to Philip and asked him for a solution.
Philip’s answer was based solely on examining his environment and making a judgment. You have to buy food and to do that you need money. Andrew, bless his heart, comes up with five loaves and two fish from some boy’s lunch box.
Jesus takes it and there John says that Jesus distributed the food. The other gospels give us a little more detail that Jesus gave it to the disciples to give out to the 5,000 men (plus more women and children).
There are, of course, great spiritual lessons from what happens here. Jesus brings up a problem. Our first tendency is to scan our environment and make a judgment. Jesus wants us to broaden our perspective because when you are with Him there is nothing that is impossible (Luke 18:27).
So what happens: the people sit (as we should wait on God), Jesus takes what they had to offer (like God asking Moses "what is in your hand" in Exodus 4). He blesses it, breaks it, then multiplies it and hands it out to others (Matthew 14). This is the same thing he does with us, taking our talents offered up to him, breaks us of pride and self reliance, infuses us with the power of the Holy Spirit, then uses us to do things we could never think to do before.
So check out their response-it isn’t a great as you might think.
14 - 15
Jesus doesn’t correct them from proclaiming him to be the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18) that Moses predicted, but their understanding of the role of the Prophet was wrong. They wanted him to be a political leader; Jesus’ mission was so much more than that.
The people were thinking with their stomachs. Their natural hunger was quenched so with their natural senses they figured that this person was really from God so he should answer their perceived need for release from the Roman occupation-not at all knowing or caring about the occupation of sin that truly enslaves every one of us.
Be careful what you expect Jesus to do for you. A true understanding of Jesus mission in your life might not be to your liking, but it will be to your benefit. Freeing the Jews from Rome would have been a temporary blessing at best, just like freeing them from one evening’s hunger would only last until the morning.
Let Jesus do the more important work in your life of cleansing and transforming you and don’t worry so much about the obvious or physical things. He promises to take care of those things but we should seek his kingdom and his righteousness first!
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus sends the disciples away and he goes up onto a mountain to pray.
16 - 21
This is also the place where Jesus asks Peter to walk on water, and Peter does until he takes his eyes off Jesus and then starts to sink! It was between 3 and 6 am.
So there are two miracles here-Jesus walking on water and then the teleportation of the boat once he got on board.
Now we are going to see the people’s real reason for following Jesus, and more of their misunderstanding of his mission.
22 - 26
Jesus is saying that you saw signs that I am the Messiah but you are still focused on what you want for yourselves. This next paragraph has one of the most profound concepts in the Scriptures.
27 - 29
The people focused on "work" (don’t work for food that perishes) while Jesus focused on the fact that he was going to "give" bread that provided eternal sustenance. In our natural state we seem to focus on what we do to earn something, where Jesus here clearly tells us that we simply could never do enough to earn God’s favor or even do his works. Isaiah 64:6 says our best is like dirty laundry to the Lord.