Everybody likes a free lunch. Especially when you are hungry and you don’t have the money to buy food! America can attest to that by the enormous number of people who are on food stamps. As of 2012, the number had grown to 48 million people, at a cost of $78 billion. That’s staggering. Back to the story.
Jesus and his disciples were somewhere around the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd of people (which numbered around 5,000) came toward them. Even when Jesus tried to head for the hills, the crowd always followed Him. Today was no different.
He asked one of his disciples, Philip, where could they go to buy enough to feed these people. Remember, there wasn’t a supermarket anywhere around like we have today. One of His disciples said they didn’t have enough money to feed all those people. But, later, another disciple, Andrew, told Jesus he had found a boy who had a basket with five loaves and two fish. The boy offered Jesus all that he had. He took the food, gave thanks to God and had the food distributed to everyone who was there. They all ate until they were filled and there was still food left over. Talk about a miracle! (There were twelve baskets full of bread left. They couldn’t keep the fish because they would start smelling!) The people got really excited about this free lunch and they began to speculate that maybe Jesus could be The Prophet they had been waiting for. Just maybe He was the key to not ever being hungry again.
So, what does this story mean for us? The people were excited because Jesus filled their stomachs with food, but they couldn’t see beyond their physical needs. However, Jesus knew their biggest needs weren’t physical – they were spiritual. Just as it is today. He said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger and he who believes in me will never thirst.” They didn’t know what He was talking about. They didn’t get it that Jesus met their physical needs to help them understand that their greatest needs were spiritual.
Do you know the Bread of Life that brings lasting fulfillment? Your next meal may meet an immediate hunger for a short time. The Bread of Life meets our deepest needs forever.