I love the images of Jesus eating, eating with tax collectors, eating with Pharisees, eating at weddings and eating with crowds. Jesus eats throughout his journey, on the night before he dies, and again beside the Emmaus road. In an incredible image of plenty—plenty of fish, plenty of bread, plenty of sharing food, drink, and God’s love, Jesus offers us a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.
After the creation of good food in the Garden of Eden God provides daily bread in the wilderness, Isaiah challenges us to eat rich food without cost, and Jesus turns water into wine at Cana. The Kingdom, God promises again and again, is full of good food, great drink, and more than enough to share.
Despite starting his ministry by creating the finest wine, the bread Jesus offers in the feeding of the 5000 is barley bread—not flavorful oats, not the treat of cinnamon raison, not even fine ground wheat bread, or a good sourdough, rather the cheapest of the breads, the most basic of foods.
With this lowly staple, however, he offers the crowd fish, an extravagance, food usually reserved for the Sabbath meal. For the Kingdom of God is not only about having enough to fill our stomachs, the Kingdom is enough food, the Kingdom is rich food, and the Kingdom is more food than we could need.
For there were leftovers that day, twelve baskets leftover, leftovers so significant they had to be gathered and measured. And that is the miracle that fills me with hope when my soul is dry, when my soul is starving, when my soul cannot survive another day. Those twelve baskets tell me again that Jesus will sit and eat with me, despite my selfishness, despite my lack of faith, despite my sinful and disobedient ways. Those twelve baskets of plenty insist that in God’s Kingdom there is more than enough for you, for neighbors, for strangers, for friends, for enemies, and yes even for unfaithful, doubting, and distrusting me. There is a ridiculously vast supply of leftovers.
In God’s world view there is food to spare, drink to share, and yes, above all else, there is love enough to hand out freely, twelve baskets, in fact, left over. And THAT is Good news!
For my organized thoughts, see my book Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Developing Relational Food Ministries. In this spot are thoughts that appear for a moment--about food programs, mission, church, building community, writing, and whatever else pops into my head.