God Never Runs Out

John 6:25-35
 
25 When the crowd found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
 
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
 

Today’s devotion is from a sermon by Dr. Luke Bouman,

former Pastor at Valparaiso University.

 

The crowds that followed Jesus across the sea had questions for him now. He had provided them with bread in the wilderness, just as God had provided Manna in the wilderness. When they wanted more, he offered them himself as “Bread of Life” but they did not see and did not understand. Jesus pressed them and they pushed back.

 

There is a difference, Jesus seems to say, between bread that leaves one hungry for more and bread that satisfies. There is a difference between bread that comes to the body and bread that flows through the body. There is a difference between bread that sustains only until death and bread that leads to eternal life. The crowds did not hear it. They did not understand it. Jesus’ statements make no sense to him. “I am the bread from heaven”? They knew his mother and father. They knew where Jesus came from. His statements made no sense. 

 

But their sight was limited. They saw only what they expected to see. They saw bread multiplied in the wilderness, but failed to recognize that the leftovers were there for them to share. They saw Jesus heal the sick, but they failed to recognize the source of the healing power. They failed to see how God would work in and through Jesus for the sake of the world, so it is no surprise that they failed to see how God might also work in them, through them. They saw themselves as receptacles, not conduits of God’s amazing gifts.

 

I wonder, are not our questions often the same? Do we not also look to Jesus to give us gifts that have their endpoint with us, rather than seeing that our gifts are meant to flow through us to others? Is not the scarcity of bread and the rampant hunger — physical, emotional, spiritual hunger — a result of our keeping the gifts of God to ourselves rather than letting them flow through us? Do we not find ourselves in a wilderness of our own making, a wasteland of want because we fail at this very point? Our scarcity is the illusion. God’s abundance is all around us. What we lack is the faith to share that abundance. We lack the faith to see that God’s grace and gifts will continue to come. 

 

Jesus, on the other hand, does not lack such faith. He gives, even to the point of death, because he trusts that God’s grace and love are more powerful even than death itself. And God raises Jesus up. Suddenly, the promises of God become clearly visible. The strongest negation of life, death itself, is no match for the life-affirming power of God. When Jesus promises that he will raise us up on the last day, he is promising that God will more than fill us, even when we are at our emptiest.

 

How liberating this word. No longer do we have to search for things to fill our lives. God has given us more than enough. His love will never run out. We are now freed by God to give ourselves willingly, lovingly in the world without hesitation and without reservation. For though we might think of ourselves as spent and exhausted, God never runs out. When God’s love flows through us rather than simply to us, we suddenly find ourselves able to give more than we thought we could. Not that we are the source. God has given this to us through Jesus Christ. Blessed we are, blessed to be a blessing!
 

Let us pray:

Thank you, God, for the Bread of Life. Fed and nourished, may we be your hands and feet sent out to feed a hungry world. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

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