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WE SHOULD NEVER HUNGER FOR THE BREAD OF LIFE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

1 AUGUST 1993

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 14:14-21
John 6:35-40

We have all heard the story of the feeding of the more than five thousand near the Sea of Galilee, but within this account of Jesus' miracle is a spiritual message for all of us.

Let's begin by reviewing this passage of Scripture from Matthew 14:14-21.

14. And when He [Jesus] went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.

Do we follow this example of Jesus?

I pray we do.

Jesus felt compassion for everyone, as should we. He didn't ask for any prior commitment from them, and nothing is said of whether or not they all believed, or were just there out of curiosity.

He just healed their sick because He felt compassion for them – all of them.

And surely, in such a large crowd there were some who didn't believe, but that didn't matter to Jesus. He still had compassion for them.

Once they came into the presence of the Lord, they no longer had to "hunger" or seek for a healing, for all who were sick were healed.

15. And when it was evening, the disciples came to Him, saying, "The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."

Jesus already knew this. He knew it was past the hour when He usually dismissed the crowds so that they could get home before dark.

But Jesus had another motive in keeping the people there longer than usual. He wanted to test the faith of His disciples, as we can see from the next verse.

The disciples needed to have their faith strengthened, for the souls of the people would be their responsibility, once He was no longer among them in physical form.

And remember: we are to be His disciples, too.

16. But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!"

Are they going to pass or fail the test?

17. And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."

They failed the test.

In fact, they didn't have enough food to properly feed themselves.

And yet, they were constantly in His presence and saw most of His miracles being performed, and yet they still doubted.

In faith, they could have said, “Yes Lord, we will give them food to eat. Here are five loaves and two fish. Multiply these, and we will serve the people, and the glory of this miracle will strengthen their faith also.”

But, they didn't do this.

They were timid, as most of us are.

18. And He said, "Bring them here to Me."

19. And ordering the multitudes to recline on the grass [which gave everyone a chance to see what He was about to do, for they were on the sloping hillside bordering Galilee], He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes,

20. and they all ate, and were satisfied. And they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets.

A true miracle happened before their eyes, and there was more left over than when they started.

And note also that we are told that Jesus multiplied the bread to feed the people.  It says nothing more about the fish.

We don't need to kill to eat; we can live in peace with the whole of creation.

21. And there were about five thousand men who ate, aside from women and children.

No one has recorded the total number of people who were there. Perhaps there were several times the five thousand.

But there are more people in the world today than there were then, and there is more than enough physical and spiritual bread, today, to satisfy all of us; that is, if we distribute it properly.

All that the five thousand plus people did was come to the Lord, and that is all they have to do today.

And if need be, the one loaf we have before us today would feed the whole town of Athens, and from here it could feed the world, if we are willing to serve it.

It’s as Jesus said in John 6:35 –

35. Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

Jesus' compassion fed the bread to everyone who came, and this is why I believe in open communion.

For I believe that once people start coming to the table of the Lord, and are fed the Lord's spiritual food, they will also come to believe.

And once they come to believe they will never thirst, either.

But not everyone is willing to come, or to have this compassion.

And to those who still struggle, Jesus explains what He means in the next five verses:

36. "But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.

37. "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

Did you hear what Jesus said?

He recognizes the fact that not everyone believes, but that He still wants them to come into His presence.

He says: I won't cast you out from my presence.

And I presume He means for as long as they live He will welcome them, encourage them, heal them, feed them, and give them every opportunity to believe, that they would be with Him after death as well.

38. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

39. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that he has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

And just in case we didn't understand what He just said, Jesus repeats it in a more precise manner:

40. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

All who come and behold the Son, and believe in Him, will have everlasting life.

That's quite a promise connected to a piece of bread, isn't it?

But we are talking about more than bread. We are talking about the Lord Himself.

So today, let us all examine ourselves, and come before the Lord's table.

Let us examine ourselves about why we come, and also about why members of our families don't come, and why many of our friends and associates don't come.

And even to little children, who occasionally make noise, the Lord offers the same spiritual food.

No one should ever hunger for the bread of life, no matter how old or young they may be.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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