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.
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!
–Adapted from Vertical with Jesus: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise “Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.” Thank him for his willingness to leave his heavenly home to live among sinners. Confess any way in which you have been unwilling to sacrifice in order to come alongside those in need. Commit yourself to having the attitude of Jesus (Phil. 2:5-11). Ask God to give you that selfless love.
Pray that the presence of Jesus through you will effectively draw an unsaved neighbor to him. Ask God to give you the right actions, words, and love in your community.
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