Jesus’ Most Useless Miracle
The miracle of the loaves and the fishes is the most useless miracle of all… and that’s the point.
In this story, found in all for gospels, Jesus feeds thousands of hungry followers, multiplying just a small amount of food so that it not only completely leaves everyone stuffed, but so there are piles and piles of leftovers.
And yet… Despite this miraculous abundance, what will happen? Just a day later, the leftovers will go start going stale and the bellies which were so full, will be hungry once again. When you’ve eaten to the point of feeling sick, you may think to yourself that you’ll never be able to eat again, but it just takes a day and the hunger will return.
If the miracle was about giving people true satisfaction, it was an epic fail. Nice party trick Jesus, but it doesn’t solve anything. And that’s exactly what Jesus is wanting his followers to see.
In John 6, we read that a day after the miracle the crowds are back looking for Jesus. But weren’t hungry for Jesus himself, they were hungry for more fish sandwiches.
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:26-27)
And what is the bread that does not spoil? The bread that Jesus describes as coming “down from heaven and gives life to the world.â€ (6:33)?
He tells them:
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Jesus didn’t come to provide our need for daily bread – though he demonstrates in the miracle that he can and in the Lord’s Prayer he does instruct us to pray for that provision. No, Jesus came to BE our daily bread.
Jesus repeats this declaration in 6:48-51…
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.â€
The point of the miracle of the loaves and the fishes was not to show us that Jesus has come to fulfill our bodily desires. It actually fails to do that. The point was to show that no matter how much bread we eat, our bodies will always be hungry. And our souls are the same. We need bread that truly satisfies. We need bread that doesn’t simply help us stay alive for a few more days. We need bread that gives us eternal life.
We need Jesus – the bread of life.
The miracle of the loaves and the fishes is an amazing miracle. But it is also so clever. It is deliberately over the top, and at the same time, deliberately useless.
May we get the point of it and seek after Jesus, not for the temporal things he might give us, but for himself.
After Jesus explains that this was his whole point, many of his followers who were simply following Jesus for the free feed, were disappointed and offended.
John 6:66 says: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
Jesus then asks his 12 disciples: “You do not want to leave too, do you?â€
And Peter replies with an amazing answer that shows that they actually now get the point of the whole episode…
â€œLord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (6:68)