If you’ve followed me on social media for any time, you are bound to know that I’ve had a recent fascination, or shall I just be honest and say obsession, with bread. No, not the kind that comes in the white plastic package adorned with primary color dots. Nope, not even the kind that comes is a clear package with a little bunny on its label. I’m talking about the role (not roll) of bread in scripture.
The light went off in my head about a month ago when I was at the Refresher2017 women’s ministry leadership retreat. The amazing and anointed Pastor Linda Willis approached the front of the gorgeous chapel with a message from the book of Ruth. A message about our Redeemer, about dealing with loss, and about healing. Little did she know that a simple statement about the town of Bethlehem would spur my Bible Geekdom (is that even a word? Geekdom?) into high gear and prompt the endless study of bread in scripture.
How in earth does Bethlehem have anything to do with bread you may ask? Bethlehem means “Place of Bread”. The light bulb when on for me when I realized that God, the provider of bread who rained manna from the heaves for the Israelites when they wandered the deserts; sent His only Son, “The Bread of Life” to be born in the “Place of Bread” so that we might never again hunger.
Just camp on that realization for a few moments. It was then that I began thinking about the miracle when Jesus fed the multitudes with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Did you know that this particular miracle is incredibly significant? It is the only miracle Jesus performed that is documented in all 4 gospels. Four times in scripture God made sure that we would read this miracle and understand the magnitude of it.
Tonight as I studied the first recording of this miracle in Matthew 14:13-21, I came across some things that I think you will find as beautiful as I do. This account begins in verse 13 with Jesus having just heard the news of His dear friend John the Baptist having been beheaded in prison. Jesus was incredibly close to John, and scripture tells us, “When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.” (Matthew 14:13). It is in this moment we see the humanity of Jesus. He is heartbroken at the news that He has lost His dear friend, and feels the need to get away by Himself.
However, the multitudes who had been following Jesus and were witness to His many miracles decided to follow after Him once they heard where He was located. So, they took off on foot after him from the cities. Now keep in mind that scripture tells us Jesus was in a deserted place. He’s out on a boat, and these people have such a desire to be near Him that they pursue Him on foot from the city. It’s not like they could hop in the car and drive a few miles, or grab the nearest cab. No! They had to walk after Him. It was this realization that made me question myself. “When was the last time that I was so desperate to meet with Jesus that I was willing to inconvenience myself?” Talk about a real toe crusher there!
Here is Jesus trying to take some time alone to grieve the loss of His dear friend, and all of these people begin to show up! I don’t know about you, but I’d be looking for a way to get away from these people as soon as I realized they were headed my way. Good grief, I would just want to be alone. But not Jesus! Verse 14 tells us that when “He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” Jesus was so filled with love and compassion for these people who He looked beyond Himself and His grief and cared for and healed the sick that the multitudes brought to Him.
Jesus does not stop at healing as a way to demonstrate His compassion for His people. He goes even further. In a place where there was no food and no market close by; a place where the disciples wanted to send the people away to purchase food because they had none and it was getting late, Jesus performed a miracle. Verse 16 says, “But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away, You give them something to eat.’ ” It is then that the disciples tell the Lord that there is no way to feed these people, all that they have are 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Certainly not a buffet for the multitudes.
This lack of tangible food did not stop Jesus. He used His mighty power. The power of Almighty God “…and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.” (V19) The vastness of this miracle stands out in verses 20-21. “So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Jesus not only provided food for multitudes of people through a miracle. He provided exceedingly abundantly more than they needed! These people didn’t simply have a snack to take the edge off of their hunger. These people ate until they were full! And the disciples took up twelve baskets of leftovers!
Do you ever doubt the power of our God dear one? Do you ever wonder if He will provide, and if His provisions will be enough? Just remember this; the same God who rained bread from heaven for 40 years in the middle of the desert, and sent His Only Son to earth in the form of a baby to die for our sins. That same God provided a miracle of sustenance once again for the multitudes on this day, and He will provide you with everything you need today! Trust in the Lord with all of your heart because He will never let you hunger. Our God will always meet your every need…often times providing you with even more than you could ever imagine.