This is Day Ten of Christ Church Manchester’s lent devotionals, where we are breaking down the book of John. Written by Stephen McKenzie.
John 6: 1 – 21:
“Argh! What a massive passage!” was my initial thought as I read through John 6:1-21 in preparation for writing this devotional. There’s an incredible amount that happens in this section of text including two major miracles and numerous other little nuances that point to Jesus as Messiah.
The key miracles are Jesus feeding 5000 and Jesus walking on water during the storm. If I had a couple of thousand words and many hours of preparation time it would have been great to go through it all. But, instead, I’m going to focus on three verses that stood out to me.
“Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had, all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
At this point, Jesus has been told that they have 5000 people to feed and very limited resources. The solution is not obvious and the disciples have no idea what Jesus is about to do. He starts with a very simple instruction: for the people to sit.
This is basically His way of asking for trust, it’s late in the day, people are tired and hungry. If they chose to sit then they are choosing to believe that He will provide. He’s asking for our trust.
Then Jesus gives thanks. This is so key. My understanding of this passage is that not only is He giving thanks for the food that He already had in his possession but also for the miracle that is about to occur.
Do we approach God with an attitude of gratefulness and a proper recognition of what He has already provided us? And more than that Jesus had the full belief or expectation that God was about to provide fully. And He gave thanks.
The provision that then comes is abundant, God does not just provide, but He does so freely and with great generosity. Father God doesn’t just want us to have enough but He wants to fill us to overflow.
We need to be able to approach God knowing that not only does He hear our pleas but that He actively wants to bless us and to do so more than we can sometimes imagine.
Yet while this is true we must be careful to not treat God simply like a cash machine, providing for all our desires in whatever way we want. This is not what He has done in this story.
Instead, He provided, generously and in answer to prayer, for the good of his people. Even when the blessings are abundant we must be aware of our responsibility to steward well what God has given us. “Let nothing be wasted”.
This passage has so much more to dig into but to take a very simple message from it is valuable. Trust that our God provides, thank Him for his provision and steward what He provides.
Written by:Andy Dowdeswell