We had a failed peach cobbler this week: too doughy. Unfortunately, I’d also doubled the recipe! So I looked online for some inspiration and decided to slice up a few pieces, then fried them. But they were too greasy for us, so back to the drawing board I went and found a ‘cake-scrap bread pudding’ recipe. As I prepared it, I began to meditate on this post which I’d already started to write. I then realised I was doing what Jesus did – using up leftovers. So here it is.
A while ago, I was reading in my Bible about the feeding of the 5000 men. You might like to read it for yourself in John 6: 1-13. I was impressed with the way Jesus used that amazing miracle to teach so many different truths. I love to put myself into the story and imagine how I might have acted if I’d been there. What would be your reaction?
First, I might have overheard how Jesus stretched the faith of his disciple, Philip. And then how he gave Andrew an opportunity to use his God-given people skills. Those interactions are in the story to teach us too. Would we be a Philip or an Andrew in that scenario?
And what about the boy whose lunch Jesus received? What a story he had to tell his mother when he arrived home! If he’d been my son, the conversation might have gone like this: ‘Well, how did it go? Did I give you enough lunch?’
‘Well, I didn’t eat it all, Mum’.
‘Why? Didn’t you like it? What did you do with the rest? That bread would be dry by now. And what about the fish?’
Maybe you believe I’m taking liberties here. You might say your son would probably go off into his bedroom and leave you to think what you liked. But not this boy. He probably remembered that experience for the rest of his life, and how his small lunch was used by Jesus. Not only had Jesus taken it all, he’d multiplied it, with many leftovers.
Not everybody makes a habit of remembering the wonderful things God does. I get into awkward situations, almost identical to the ones I’ve experienced before, and I still don’t remember the original lesson! The disciples were no different. Soon they were giving Jesus the perfect opportunity to reuse the event for their benefit…and ours. Jesus used a few home truths in that experience too.
At that time, the disciples were out in the boat and they were worried that they’d forgotten to bring bread – Mark 8:13-21. That’s when Jesus pulled out some more teaching and recycled it, reminding them of the 5000 men and the twelve baskets of leftover pieces, and also the seven baskets of bread gathered up after feeding four thousand. But they completely muddled the meaning of these experiences, and so did the crowd who met Jesus on the other side of the sea. He saw what was in their hearts and had to explain it all to them, exposing their stupidity.
I’ve heard the edict about us not giving God our leftovers, but how often do we think of the ‘leftovers’ that he gives to us. They’re not shrunken hand-me-downs, or second-hand spiritual food. They’re always an abundant meal that is freshly prepared just for us and fills us up with new truth. I’ll take God’s ‘recycled leftovers’ every time! Better than the manna in the wilderness that went mouldy when it wasn’t gathered on the right days.
As Jesus said to the people, ‘I am the Bread that God sent from Heaven’ – John 6:33.