I led our ladies Sunday Bible class yesterday and opted not to share something that struck me as odd. My answer for one of the questions was totally different, mainly because the scripture given didn’t really answer the question like I thought it should.
The subject of the week’s study was Jesus as the Bread of Life. The last lesson of the week had us read about Jesus feeding the five thousand with some loaves of bread and fish. The point made was we are to be distributors of the bread. Yes, we must nourish ourselves with the true bread, but we are to pass it on. An unopened loaf of bread does nobody any good. We must distribute it to those around us – to feed and nourish those in need.
All four gospels share this story, but one gospel says it differently than the others. In John 6:11-12, we see what Jesus does with the few loaves and fish.
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.”
In the other gospels, Jesus gives the disciples the loaves and fish he blessed, and the disciples distributed the food. In John, Jesus distributed the food and then tells the disciples to gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Picking up the leftovers. I’ve been thinking about this job of the disciples and how it relates to me. As a follower of Christ, how do I pick up the leftovers? What are the leftovers today?
I don’t really know the theological answer, but it seems to me that what Jesus gives to us shouldn’t be wasted. It was important to Him to not waste the bread. He wanted it picked up. Whatever we are given shouldn’t be cast aside or used half-heartedly. What He gives is a treasure, whether it be reconciliation with Him, peace, life, forgiveness, or even food on our table.
Another way to look at it could be that everyone is offered the Bread of LIfe – Jesus Himself. That doesn’t mean that everyone will accept it. They may cast it aside or take a bite and decide they can make their own bread. Maybe we take those leftovers … those pieces set aside … and offer them up to someone else. We don’t let Jesus go to waste, but we keep distributing His nourishing bread of life to those who need Him.
Of course, we could see it as provision and reward for working in God’s kingdom on earth. In the other gospels, the disciples distributed the bread, then picked up the leftovers. Perhaps the lesson is that you can’t out-give God. We may give of ourselves in the ministry of Jesus, loving and serving others, but when we do, we find that we are taken care of by a great God who takes care of His own. When we give of ourselves, we find provision and sustenance for our soul.
I don’t have answers, really, just thoughts about some leftovers and the job of gathering them up.
What kind of leftovers are you picking up today? Have you thought about who you would share your leftovers with?