Feeding the Hungry

Lou Lotz

READ : John 6:1-14

“Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated.” (v. 11)

When I asked an Indian pastor what the church in America might do to help spread God’s word in India, he replied: “Print it on bread.”

Preachers like to spiritualize the feeding of the five thousand, treating the story as a metaphor for the kind of spiritual nourishment Jesus provides. There is certainly warrant for that approach. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Jesus does meet a real, physical need. He feeds the multitude not with metaphors, but with food.

It is not God’s will that people go hungry. The gospel is never offered as a substitute for the basic needs of human survival. Jesus longs to satisfy the multitude’s deeper, spiritual hunger, but he doesn’t ignore their physical hunger.

The feeding of the five thousand reminds us that there is a relationship between the hunger of the body and the hunger of the soul. When people’s stomachs are full, the hunger of their hearts is better addressed. After the crowds have eaten, then they begin to say, “This is indeed the prophet who has come into the world” (v. 14).

Here’s a verse for us to chew on: “I was hungry,” said Jesus, “and you gave me food” (Matthew 25:35).


Open my eyes, Lord, to the needs of the poor.