July 10, 2015
During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
The centrality of eating in the bible cannot be overestimated. The great grace in the Garden of Eden was that the man and woman could eat from any tree in the garden save one. Consequently, the great fall from grace surrounded eating. At the end of all things broken and the beginning of all things made new we will enjoy a grand wedding feast—the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Eating can be a great blessing and it can be a great curse. Most of us know both realities all too well. Perhaps this is also part of the reason fasting is so essential to growing as a disciple of Jesus. Feasting is a blessing he gives to us. Might fasting be a blessing we give to Him?
Eating was central in the ministry of Jesus. In today’s text he fed thousands of Gentiles with a few fishes and several loaves. A couple of chapters back he fed thousands of Jews, again with a few fishes and loaves.
When it came to food he took scarce resources and transformed them into abundant provisions. Remember in that first feeding miracle he said to his disciples, “You give them something to eat.” Giving people something to eat may be all at once the most practical, compassionate and loving things a person can do for another.
It makes me think about my mother. She loves giving people something to eat, and she’s quite good at it. It makes me think about Chik-fil-A and the sign on the wall of all their restaurants quoting their founder, Truett Cathey: “Food is essential to life, therefore make it good.” Chick-fil-A is the only fast food restaurant chain in the world that has managed to make feeding people, and all the thoughtful touches of service that accompany it, a true ministry.
It’s tempting to take this in a “spiritual” direction and talk about how Jesus feeds us with something far more than food. While this is true, let us not forget the inextricable connection of eating and drinking—bread and wine—as the definitive sign of our relationship with Him. The Gospel is all wrapped up in eating.
Finally, let’s remember that final conversation with Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when Jesus asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” In reply to Peter’s, “Yes,” Jesus commanded, “Feed my sheep.”
We are told at the final judgment that one of the greatest ways we have of encountering Jesus on earth is through the presence of people who hunger. On that day he will say to the people on his right, the sheep, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.”
Given all of this, let’s be very mindful of the constant opportunities we have to obey Jesus in the most practical every day of ways—feeding others.
Take someone to lunch today and take lunch to someone tomorrow. The Holy Spirit loves to work through food! Thank God!
SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD, FALL AFRESH ON ME.
P.S. Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge. It’s 40 days, one day per week at a time, over the next 52 weeks. It’s a food only fast. Begins after supper on one day and ends at 4pm the next- 2 meals. Liquids fine. Fasting goes better together. I’ll send you a short weekly encouragement email if you register.– sign up here.
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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.