Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread. When he had given thanks, he distributed it to those who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, each getting as much as they wanted.
This week’s Gospel lesson follows the day that Jesus has fed the multitude with loaves and fish. Jesus looks up, and the crowd is back. He’s not surprised really. Maybe they are hoping for another miracle—and he can’t blame them. But he doesn’t want them to miss the point. His primary offering is not bread for their bodies but bread for their spirits—the bread of God’s love that will feed their hearts and sustain their hope in the days to come.
The crowd indicates interest but wonders aloud, “What must we do?” Surely they have to take action, “perform the works of God”—in order to receive such a meal ticket! They do not yet understand that Jesus wants to give them this bread— not because they have earned it but because they need it, and he loves them. He himself is the bread, the bread of heaven, the bread of life.
Like the crowd in the story, we sometimes have a hard time grasping Jesus’ words. He invites us to come to the table and be fed. In time we will find there is plenty to do: loving, healing actions. And we will desire to do those things—not to earn a place at the Lord’s table but in grateful response to having been included and fed ourselves.
At a gathering of church members who had provided a lunch for homeless guests, pastor and homeless advocate Charlie Strobel remarked, “You know, vending machines can feed people. It’s our privilege to share a meal.” He went on to explain that in a true meal people share not only food but the bread of loving community.
—Mary A. Lathbury*
“Break thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me.” Thank you for the joy of sharing your bread with other people who hunger. Amen.
What does it mean to go from expecting much to accepting what is needed?
Credits: *From The Upper Room Disciplines 2015: A Book of Daily Devotions. Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This and the other devotionals for this Lenten Series can be found at the following link: http://www.thegodwecanknow.com/category/50-devotions/page/4/.