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Feed these people

Have you ever noticed how many Bible stories involve eating and drinking?

Even if we just stick to the New Testament, there are plenty: Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine, keeping the wedding feast going. He made a habit of sitting down to eat with an array of ‘unsuitable’ people – inviting himself to dinner with Zaccheus the tax collector (an outcast in his own community) and he was eating with Simon the Leper when he was anointed at Bethany.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray in a way that acknowledged the importance of food (‘give us this day our daily bread’) and he asked them to remember him by sharing a simple meal of bread and wine. He joined them for breakfast on the beach after the resurrection, and it was over a meal that the travellers to Emmaus recognised the risen Lord.

Of course, maybe the most spectacular story of all is the feeding of the 5000. It is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. For example, John writes:

When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”
One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted. (John 6 v5-11)

We’re approaching the season of Lent, traditionally a time of fasting. But perhaps these stories point us in a different direction.

Firstly, they remind us that Jesus was concerned about our basic needs. People need to be fed – and eating together is a great way to build community (as many churches have recognised over the centuries!)

Secondly, they remind us of the importance of sharing. It seems the news is always full of hungry people: from stories of the pressures on UK food banks to humanitarian disasters in the Yemen, Somalia and other countries where millions are literally starving to death.

The message of the miracle seems clear.

When we share, when we give whatever little we have, when we do that in faith, there will always be enough.

Gill McCleave


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