When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Reflection: Many years ago, Gayle Young and I created a Lenten activity for Wednesday night programming and Sunday School families based on the miracle story of Feeding the 5,000. We planned devotions with verses that focused on “bread.” We had many to choose from as there are almost 500 verses in the Bible that mention bread. For a visual teaching tool, we challenged people to collect 5,000 canned goods for local pantries. Our hope was that we would learn about local hunger and also grow deeper in our understanding of Jesus, the bread of life.
The project was such a success that we have challenged ourselves four more times. Each time we took on the challenge, we have learned more about hunger – both local and global. Each time we learn that hunger is intertwined with many other societal issues that seem daunting to solve. Each time we are reminded that there is always something we can do – we can pray and ask God to help guide us. We can donate to local pantries that know the issues of their community. We can donate to world hunger projects of the ELCA as the global church continues is to address issues of education and sustainability of people in hunger crisis.
Jesus not only fed the people spiritually, but he literally fed them with food. We need both. And we need to continue to ask God to lead and guide us as we go out to spread the good news of Jesus – the bread of life – both spiritually and physically.
Prayer: Dear God, please continue to lead us and encourage us to remember those in need of food. The food that nourishes our bodies and the food that nourishes our spirit. We can make a difference in the lives of those in our community, and in the world, who are in need of both. Amen.