Where Shall We Buy Bread?
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
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.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:1-15)
Living on the edge of hunger is all too common for many in our world today. What do you suppose those faced with the threat of starvation would think or do regarding someone who could take a few fish and loaves of bread and miraculously feed a multitude of thousands? They would demand he become their leader and they would follow him anywhere . . . as long as he continued to feed them.
That’s exactly what Jesus faced in Galilee 2,000 years ago. Providing food for hungry people seemed such a good thing to do. And it was. But the crowd, demonstrating the same self-centeredness that is so pervasive in our culture today, went beyond being thankful for one meal and began to consider their next meal. “Let’s make Jesus our king and He’ll keep feeding us.”
Jesus would have none of it. He got up and slipped away before the crowd could act on their desires. The fascinating thing is that Jesus was their King. But His kingdom was not a horizontal kingdom in which providing for physical needs was the primary indicator. Instead, Jesus’ kingdom started off in a vertical posture as a relationship with a loving God who would sacrifice His only Son to bring eternal life to His followers. Physical needs were and would be met, but only as those things that pointed clearly to Who He was as Savior of the world.
The Lord calls us to Himself as the Bread of Life: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). He shared more insight with His disciples after His encounter with the Samaritan woman: “I have food to eat that you know nothing about . . . My food . . . is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:32, 34). The spiritual always took precedence in Jesus’ life. Our life in Him should always point vertical before horizontal. Physical needs are important, but never at the expense of ignoring our spiritual life in Christ.
Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.
Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?
Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.
Ask: Thank You Jesus, for being the spiritual food and drink that I desperately need. Thank You for spreading a table before me. You have given me every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. I come to
Your great feast to enjoy Your presence and all that You provide. I choose this day to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, trusting that all other needs will be met!
- We live in a culture that is filled with those who are self-centered and feel entitled to have every need met immediately. Ask God to show you one thing that you have felt entitled to and don’t want to let go of. Determine how you might release it to His control instead of your own.
- Decide how you can live more simply and give more away. What do you hold onto that someone else could use?
- Consider fasting if you are medically able. Giving up the physical from time to time to focus on the spiritual is a powerful discipline that will deepen your vertical connectivity! Try intentionally skipping a meal (or more) and spend that time in prayer.
- Is there someone you know who is getting their fulfillment from external things rather than from the Bread of Life? How can you point them vertically today?
Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.