“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 a turn to share something they are thankful for? Whatever comes to mind, few of us think of supernatural signs and wonders. And yet, they are intricately linked. Perhaps you are familiar with the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 families with only five loaves and two fish. But have you ever pondered what really prompted the miracle? Was it in response to thousands of people looking for a meal? Jesus’s desire 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 is simply described as 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 not how I would have described this miraculous event. 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. Rather, it was about humbly acknowledging The Provider.
God the Father, Our Provider
What’s more wonderful is that God our Provider desires to give us something far superior to physical bread. Food 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 life so that we could experience an eternal joy and fulfillment 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 you and I 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, for such a glorious gift.
Shadia is a passionate Bible teacher, author and speaker who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and is author of several books and Bible studies.