“Give Thanks.” It’s such a small phrase, isn’t it? What circumstance prompts this phrase most often? What comes to mind for you? Perhaps family gathered together around a table to say grace…or maybe a Thanksgiving tradition where each person takes turn around the table to share something they are thankful for? Whatever comes to mind, few of us rarely, if ever, think of miracles or supernatural signs and wonders, yet they are intricately linked.
Most of us are familiar with the biblical account in John chapter 6, where Jesus feeds 5,000 families with only five loaves of bread and two small fish. Have you ever considered what actually prompted the miracle? Was it in response to thousands of people looking for a meal? Jesus’ need to display His divinity? Honoring the little boy who was willing to share his lunch?
Actually, reading further, reference to the miracle itself is merely described within the framework of one little phrase: it was the place where Jesus “gave thanks.” “[The] boats landed near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks” (John 6:23, italics mine). I don’t know about you, but that’s now how I would have described it. The word “miracle” isn’t even in the text! I think it is because the event was not merely about God’s miraculous provision, as glorious as it was, but rather about acknowledging The Provider.
What’s more wonderful is that our Provider desires to give us something far superior to physical bread, which can only temporarily satisfy. He even warns those who have such a narrow view, “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.’” (John 6:26)
He wants to give us so much more! Jesus tells us, “For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40) Jesus sacrificed His very own life so that we could experience an eternal joy and fulfillment that is beyond anything this world can offer. And He demonstrated He has the power to do it: a few chapters later, after giving thanks to God, Jesus raises a man named Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-44).
This is why, when we gather around the table to “give thanks” for our food, we give thanks not merely for the temporary, earthly provisions, as wonderful as they are, but to give thanks to The Provider. And what is God’s greatest provision? His Son Jesus. “And now [God] offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32-33)
Jesus says Himself, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my body.” (John 6:51)
Thank you, Lord Jesus, thank you.