My mother amazed us when it came to feeding people. On the farm it was common for friends to drop in around lunch time. She usually prepared lunch for 2-4 people, but these drop-ins could bring the number up to a dozen or more. This didn’t faze her. She found ways to feed all of them. Her goal was meeting needs.
Our current church has brunch after the service on Sunday. This ministry started small but now we host between 400 and 500 people. We stack chairs, bring out tables and tablecloths and folks line up to several buffet tables with regular breakfast fare, plus a counter with toast and coffee, and another table for those on a gluten-free diet. This congregation is mostly well-to-do so it is not a charitable event. The main goal is that we can get to know one another as we fellowship over food. Brunch develops relationships. Unity in Christ is our goal for brunch.
Jesus fed people too. John 6 tells of a crowd who followed Him and when it was lunch time, all but one of the five thousand plus hungry people forgot to pack a lunch. The disciples were concerned. Finally, Andrew brought a boy to Jesus with his lunch of five barley loaves and two fishes.Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. (John 6:10–13)
What was Jesus’ goal in doing this? Filling their bellies, or did He have something more in mind?
When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:14–15)
He was not ready to be exalted, but this miraculous picnic did prepare the people for what He wanted to tell them. The next day the crowd gathered again, seeking Jesus, but He knew their real motive:
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but 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.”They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:26–40)
This miracle gave Him opportunity to talk to them about their spiritual need. The rest of the chapter tells how Jesus used the situation to teach them the contrast between “the flesh” and “the spirit” and in doing so He uncovered their failure to understand spiritual realities. But some stayed, including Peter:
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66–69)
He got it, at least got the part that kept him close to Jesus. He understood that Jesus was the Lord, and that they had no other options.
Jesus, so many times I’ve figured out other options. When challenges come, “I can do this” runs through my head far too often. It should be “Jesus will enable me . . . .” Forgive this reliance on the flesh and keep prodding me to walk by faith, trusting You for all that I need, including but not limited to lunch!