Then Jesus declared, “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 (ESV)
My family eats well. It is a joy for me to cook for them, especially on the weekends when I have time to do more than just slap something into a pan that can quickly go on a plate. Some recipes are our favorites. Country fried steak, Spaghetti, Cranberry chicken, fried chicken, pork chops for meat. Baked rice, hash brown casserole, twice baked potatoes, yellow rice or German potato salad for starch. Strawberry pretzel salad, orange jello salad, a variety of tossed salads. Green Bean casserole, carrot soufflé, squash casserole, corn spoon bread, sweet potatoes. Baked beans, lima beans, black eyed peas. Of course, holidays are an opportunity to prepare multiple selections and more food than any one family can possibility eat. My side of the family gathers at our house on Thanksgiving, and this year, my sister, mom and I have decided to cut down on the number of dishes that we serve. Not only are we looking to simplify, but we are conscious of how much gets wasted. We want to be good stewards of what we have been given, but also do not want to overdo realizing that there are many people, not only around the world, but in our community who go to bed hungry every night. I do not think it coincidence that Jesus was so concerned about feeding people. Today, our Sunday School lesson was on the feeding of the 5,000, a miracle that is recorded in all four of the gospels. When Jesus told his disciples to go and buy bread to feed what was closer to 15,000 people, if you figure in the women and children, He knew that not only did they not have enough money for the food but that there was no place to buy it. And yet, He charged them with that task. When they finally admitted that they could not do what He asked, Jesus stepped in and took a little boy’s lunch and turned it into a feast with leftovers. It was probably the first time that most of those people had ever eaten until they were full. Unlike modern day Americans who gorge themselves on a regular basis. When we help to feed people, God performs a similar miracle. Not like that desperate prayer we often pray in the church kitchen before feeding a multitude or what appears a multitude, “Oh, God take this meager offering and turn it into enough to feed all these people,” but a miracle that goes beyond feeding empty bellies, to feeding empty souls. Jesus knew that before you could talk to people about their spiritual needs, you had to ease their physical hunger. Once their stomach no longer rumbles in pain, people are willing to listen to you tell about the One who compels you to help them. The real miracle is more than multiplying food, but about changing hearts. Even hearts that have more than enough and realize that it is time to cut back and give more.