Summary: When we go to God through Christ, we will never walk away hungry. When we draw near to God with our whole heart, we will never walk away, disappointed. Because for us, our faithful Saviour will always provide enough—more than enough.
If you’ve recently prayed the Lord’s Prayer, then you made the request to your Father in heaven that He would give you this day “your daily bread.”
I wonder if that’s a petition we make with a lot of sincerity. Are we really concerned about getting what we need to maintain our bodies? Is there any doubt at all that there will be food on our tables tomorrow? It’s hard to pray this when the shelves in our pantry hardly have room for more, when we have a freezer (or maybe two freezers) full of meat, and the supermarket is just down the road.
But even if we’ve never prayed this petition with a growling stomach and an anxious heart, it is a prayer to offer—to pray every day. For it is built on the foundation of God’s sure promise that He’ll provide us with all we need, for as long as He gives life. Through teaching us to pray, our gracious Father seeks to instill in us a daily reliance on his goodness.
And that lesson applies far more widely than simply to the Cornflakes in our bowl or the hamburger on our plate. These good gifts came from God’s hand, and He will open his hand in countless other ways too. As Jesus says in Matthew 6, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on” (v 25). No need to worry, because “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (v 32).
So maybe you’re not worried about having enough for the kids’ lunches this week, or needing a new coat for when winter comes. But perhaps you are worried about the lump you felt in your neck recently, or about having enough to buy a house, or how you’re ever going to retire. Our hearts can be full of anxieties. In one way or another, we worry about our life—but Jesus says to put worry to rest because of who He is, and how He cares for his people. And this is what Jesus shows in the miracle in John 6:5-14,
Jesus generously feeds his hungry people:
1) preparing for the meal
2) serving the meal
3) cleaning up
1) preparing for the meal: Chapter 6 begins with Jesus on the move: “Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee” (v 1). He is crossing from the western side to the eastern, into a region that is fairly deserted. But in this secluded area, He’s not alone: “a great multitude followed Him” (v 2). It’s a crowd of 5000 men—and probably three or four times as many women and children.
How has Jesus collected so many followers? Lately He has been doing spectacular signs, most recently, healing the crippled man of Bethesda. The people are impressed and want to see more. That’s often the case with our special experiences—even with our intense moments of faith—after the high has faded, we soon want it again.
Verse 4 gives another clue about why there might be so many people in the region: “Now the Passover…was near.” From all over the land of Israel, folks were headed toward Jerusalem for the annual feast. And along the way, there’s an interesting diversion, because they come across the miracle-worker Jesus: “Let’s hang around and see if He does something.”
“The Passover was near.” For John the Gospel writer, this is more than telling us what time it is. It’s actually a massive hint about the meaning of the event that is about to unfold, the feeding of the multitude.
With the Passover near, the priests at the temple were already preparing to kill the young lambs whose blood would be sprinkled and whose meat would be eaten. At this very time, God’s people were gathering to commemorate how the LORD had saved his people from slavery in Egypt. Passover was a celebration of how Moses led them out, and then how Israel was fed with the bread of heaven throughout their wilderness journey.
And now, on the far side of the Sea of Galilee, the crowds are about to meet a new Moses, a greater Moses. Here, in this wilderness, Jesus will feed them miraculously and generously. Then, as the crowds will press him to do it again the next day, Jesus will say, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (6:32-33). With his own body and his blood, Jesus, the Lamb of God—the true Passover sacrifice—is going to redeem sinners.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… John 6 begins with a simple story of physical need and faithful supply. All the theology comes a bit later in the chapter.