Bread and Meat, Again

Andrea Poppleton

READ : John 6:1–14
Exodus 16:1–15

Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting! (John 6:14 NLT)

When John wrote his Gospel, he made deliberate choices about which details to include. At first read, the details might seem trivial, but they often provide clues to understanding the stories John tells. In John 6, a crucial clue comes early in the chapter, where it seems like John is simply setting the scene. “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand” (v. 4).

Passover was (and is) a festival in which God’s people celebrate the exodus from Egypt. They retell, through story, song, and food, the historical journey of God’s people from slavery to freedom. In John 6, when “Passover . . . was at hand,” Jesus distributed five loaves of bread and two small fish to a large crowd that had followed him up a mountain. Miraculously, every person there—all 5,000 of them—received enough to eat. Jesus provided both bread and meat for each hungry belly.

When the crowd, who already had Passover on their minds, experienced Jesus’ provision of bread and fish, they remembered the events of the exodus story. They recalled that God had provided bread and meat for his people in the wilderness. The similarities between the exodus story and their own experience that day were too arresting to ignore. The people recognized Jesus as the prophet whom God had promised to send on his behalf. Jesus was providing bread and meat for God’s people, just as God had done in the wilderness.

PRAYER

Jesus, help me to recognize you as the one sent by God. Amen.