Loaves

As a kid there was one thing I looked forward to about church every Sunday: the end of the service. Though the little kids only had to sit through halftime, the bigger kids had to stay. Not only was I bored, but after getting there early and then sitting through Sunday school and church, I was hungry!

Unless it was a communion Sunday – because then we got food! But not really. I remember anxiously watching the ushers bring the loaves of bread around and then, following my mother’s instructions, ripping a ‘small’ piece from the loaf. ‘Small’ meaning the largest piece I could get away with, of course!

As I watched the ushers carry the almost-full loaves of bread back to the front of the sanctuary, all I could think was how unfair it was. Surely there was enough for everyone to have had more! There weren’t that many people in the room – why didn’t they just pre-cut the bread and let everyone have a whole slice?

Well, I guess it would have been hard to wash down with that tiny half-sip of grape juice, anyway. 😉

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If you’ve ever had a ‘good’ quiet time with God, then you know what I mean by a ‘good’ quiet time with God. One of those times where you close your Bible or devotional and, with a deep sense of satisfaction, think “Wow! That’s so good!”. Sometimes it’s just the inspiration you need to face a challenge coming at you that day. Or a verse that brings you to your knees in awe of our great God. Or even a conviction you’ve been avoiding.

Whatever it is, feeling like you’ve heard from God in a personal way rocks. There aren’t many words to describe the sense of fulfillment it brings!

John 6 tells the story of Jesus miraculously turning five barley loaves and two fish into enough food for over five thousand people. With word of His healing abilities spreading rapidly, large crowds were before Him at every stop. And in this “desolate place” (Matthew 14:15), after many hours of watching and listening to Jesus, the people were understandably hungry.

So He fed them. And He didn’t just provide enough for each of them to have a bite – they all got “as much as they wanted” and ate “their fill”. (John 6:11-12). There were even leftovers!

After not only witnessing a miracle like this, but physically experiencing it for themselves, you can imagine the people were then hungry for more! So when they couldn’t find Jesus in that same place the next day, they followed Him to “the other side of the sea”. (v. 25)

But when they found Jesus, He said to 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.’” (v. 26) Jesus could see their hearts and knew exactly how to expose them. They were there because they wanted more – not because the food was a gourmet treat or because they were desperate for some free eats – they wanted more of the “WOW!”. The physical sensation of experiencing Jesus’ miracles firsthand was a ‘meal’ worth chasing!

In verse 35 Jesus assured them He was worth chasing – but not for the reasons they had been doing so: “‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” In Himself, Jesus had something to offer that would be more fulfilling and more satisfying than anything He could do or any way He could excite their senses. And they would experience that when they believed in Him just for Him – not for what they could get out of Him.

When I open my Bible, flip to today’s page in my devotional, turn on that worship song, or close my eyes to pray, I’m aware that there are loaves upon loaves of ‘stuff’ to be ‘gotten’ from Jesus. I know that He has the power and ability to “WOW!” me by exciting my senses with His words or His presence. But am I only going to Jesus for what I can ‘get’ out of Him? Am I after my “fill” or just after Him?

No matter how I feel as I get up to move on with my day, I can be assured that Jesus’ promise in John 6:35 is real. No matter how small the portion feels, I will never leave hungry or thirsty when I come to Him!

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