Seeking first His kingdom
This morning, I had quite a Godincidence, as my friend puts it. My morning Bible reading was from John chapter six, which turns out to be quite a bread chapter. What I mean is that almost the whole chapter revolves around bread. That for me was quite an amazing point in itself, as I knew I was going to be writing this week’s prayer paper about God’s provision, exploring what Jesus meant by His prayer: Give us this day our daily bread. So, in John chapter six, the first story is the well-loved miracle of Jesus feeding five thousand people. I read it, watching for what might spring out to me this time. And I was quite surprised! What struck me was not the so-familiar miracle of plenty (amazing though it was) but the attitude differences of the two disciples facing the need. We are given a lovely close-up of what happened. Jesus knew the situation, God’s possibilities and His disciples. With this in mind, it is even amusing to read that He tests His disciple Philip by asking him how to feed the crowd around them. Philip’s faith level is revealed through this stressful question. He looks around at the lack of resources and says: ”Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” John 6:7. This sounds like an expression of despair instead of faith-filled prayer! But then Andrew speaks up. He seems to be the disciple who is always seeing possibilities. Andrew replies: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:9.
He states what the disciples already have available, even though he acknowledges that it is painfully short of what they need. Jesus, however, begins the miracle of feeding the crowd with the elements Andrew brings to His attention.
I can admit that I have often had the attitude of Philip in prayer. Like Philip, I have said to Jesus that we just had no possibility of meeting the need. And it has been true when I have taken God out of the equation. It is interesting how we can sometimes panic even in prayer! However, instead of this, I propose that we develop the more faith-filled approach of Andrew who brought what he did have to Jesus and let Him take over from there. Further along in the same chapter of John, Jesus states that people ran after Him because He gave them bread. How often do we do the same? We sometimes seek God just to get material blessings, which He also provides, instead of pressing in to receive the true blessings He desires to give. Still further down the chapter, John reports Jesus’ provocative discourse on Himself being the Bread of Life. I have a feeling that Jesus may have wanted to get rid of a slightly wrongly motivated crowd of disciples He had gained through His food miracles! He provokes His listeners by saying that we must feed on Him. That His flesh is real food. This sounds disgusting to the natural man and actually Jesus did get rid of quite a few extra followers fairly quickly! His disciples, however, realised that although they perhaps didn’t understand everything He said, Jesus had the words of life.
When we pray that our heavenly Father may give us this day our daily bread, may we keep in mind Jesus’ whole teaching on bread. Through His astounding miracle of multiplication, Jesus showed that He can provide for physical needs. God cares for our sustenance. And yet in other passages we see that He is even more concerned for our spiritual needs because He knows that only this can really satisfy! So in our prayers, may we increasingly mirror Jesus’ priorities, seeking first His kingdom and righteousness in our lives. The promise remains that all things, including the daily bread we need, will then be given to us!