First readers, I apologize again for the sporadic devotions this week. I was at meetings in Milwaukee and traveling and just failed to get them written and posted.
So let’s wrap up the week with the ultimate “Why?” for the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 plus people.
There is no question the miracle was impressive. Two fish and five loaves become enough food for every person on the hillside to have not just a bite but to be satisfied, completely full…AND there were twelve baskets of bread left over. Even what was left over was more than what was present at the beginning.
You would think that Jesus following grew exponentially. How would you have reacted? If you were a doubter, I would think having a meal provided by Jesus could be pretty convincing.
So why did Jesus’ following greatly diminish after the miracle?
John 6:66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Please read the full chapter 6 of John to fill in the details, but when people realized that following Jesus was not just watching his miracles and enjoying the results of them, but rather accepting him as the Son of God and “eating of him,” people didn’t want anything to do with it.
Perhaps this is true too often in our lives and the lives of others.
If the Lord allows material blessings, it’s easy to follow him. When he gives us health, a good income, great relationships, fun experiences…it is perhaps easier to stay close to Jesus. We love the “bread” that Jesus distributes.
However, when the material things of life diminish and we are challenged to follow Jesus in spite the hardships and scarcity we experience, it is very tempting to walk away from Jesus or never follow him in the first place.
The lesson Jesus is teaching his disciples and us is that he is far more interested in our eternal sustenance, than our physical sustenance (although by the miracle he is certainly gracious to provide for both.) When we are challenged to give up the idols in our heart and follow Jesus; to give up the possibility that there are many ways to heaven; and to submit ourselves to the Word of God? Hmmm…now I have to think about that. Many simply find it easer to disconnect from Jesus and follow their own path in life.
So many followers of Jesus did.
So he turns to his disciples (the original group he was with before the crowd of people came).
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answers for himself and others.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
The test Jesus set up for his disciples about where to buy bread was a test to discern not the practical feeding of so many people, but to give opportunity to build confidence in the hearts of the disciples that Jesus was the Christ and that by believing they would have life in his name.
The very purpose John stated he recorded the miracles were the very ones God used to convince him that Jesus was the Son of God, the ONLY one with words that led to eternal life.
Bread would bless for a few hours. The Bread of Life, Jesus, would sustain life for an eternity.
That is why Jesus did the miracle of feeding the 5000+.
So you and I would answer when we are tempted to leave Jesus, ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Apply: What tempts you to walk away from Jesus? What happens when we turn back to his word of truth and realize that Jesus is the only one who gives eternal life?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being concerned about my eternal salvation more than our physical bread, but I am also grateful you provide for my daily needs even as you did all for my eternal needs. AMEN.