Jesus stands in a field, right beside a lake teeming with fish, surrounded by thousands of hungry people, and begins breaking a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. The more he breaks them, the more the loaves and fish multiply so that more than 5000 people are fed a meal, and no one is hungry. Also, none of the food is wasted.
Some people see this miracle and they think the point is about what Jesus can do. But there is something deeper. The point of the feeding of the 5000 is not just about what Jesus can do.
This miraculous feeding is a sign of who Jesus is.
Did you catch the difference? Some people only see the miracles in terms of what Jesus did for people while he walked the earth. And they conclude that he was a great man, an amazing teacher, and a miracle worker who can meet needs instantaneously. And all of those things are true. But they stop short of seeing him for who he really is.
Jesus is not just able to provide bread. Jesus is the bread of life.
You see, after Jesus feeds the crowd, a few hours later the people are hungry again. They begin looking for him, but they are not looking for the right reason. They are looking for the person who provided a free meal to them, but Jesus wanted them to realize that the physical food was a sign that he could give them spiritual food — eternal life.
When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” Jesus answered, “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” (John 6:25-27)
THE WORK OF GOD
The people who ate the loaves and fish then ask about being part of God’s work. Jesus surprises them by telling them the way to participate in the work of God is to believe in him as the One who has been sent from God. Jesus is saying that God’s main work is to help people experience life-change and eternal life by trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. Jesus replied, “This is the work of God —that you believe in the One He has sent.” “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they asked. “What are You going to perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!” (John 6:28-34)
So are you participating in the work of God?
Social ministries and benevolence ministries are important because they meet very real needs that people have for food, shelter, clothing and other needs. But if the people who serve in those ministries are not sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in a loving, clear way with those whom they serve, then they are not fully participating in the work of God.
And each of us on a daily basis has the opportunity to have gospel conversations with people. Let us participate in the work of God.
THE WILL OF GOD
We obey the will of God when we participate in the work of God. We must point people to Jesus, the bread of life.
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again. But as I told you, you’ve seen Me, and yet you do not believe. Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40)
One of my favorite ways to encourage people spiritually is by asking them to read the Bible for themselves. God speaks to us through the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word. So if you are curious about Christ, read online here. Pray this simple prayer to God: “As I read the Bible, speak to me and show me who Jesus really is.”
If you are a Christ-follower already, stay in the center of the will of God by participating in the work of God. And remember, the work of God is to help people to see that Jesus came from heaven to provide eternal life to all who will believe.