These verses relate to the feeding of the five thousand, which is a remarkable miracle any way that you look at it. I have written about this miracle several times already as I covered it in each of the other three gospels, so I will not cover that aspect again. If you want to see what I said in those other posts, the links are at the bottom of the page. Instead let us look at what the Bible says about the food of the Spirit (and it will not make you fat!)
There are lots of reference to food in the Bible, too many to cover here. Jesus often used food to teach and describe different things as part of parables and stories so that the people would understand. But there is one particular reference He uses that stands out. He says, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
This is the food that will not make you fat. It is the words of God and Jesus Christ that will feed your spirit so that you can have life. Bread is often called the “staff of life,” but the words of God and of Jesus Christ is the essence of life itself. It is the “stuff of life.”
But what happens if a person is not fed? When they are fed good food they grow and mature and become strong. But if they do not eat good food they become ill, malnourished and will eventually die of starvation. It is the same for those who do not receive spiritual food. When a person is not fed the food of the spirit, the words of God, they too suffer and become ill in the spirit and can lose their life.
The food of the Spirit is the knowledge of God and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When they receive the teachings of truth they grow strong and mature in Christ. They are able to stand against the wiles of the devil and withstand the many tests Christians face firm in the knowledge of the truth of the Saviour. But if they are not fed the good food of the Spirit and are fed either nothing or “spiritual fast food” that charges the emotions but does nothing for their spiritual well being, then they will suffer.
Who is Responsible for Feeding the Flock?
We saw when Jesus had been resurrected that he gave the responsibility for feeding the flock and tending the “sheep” of the Lord to the apostle Peter. (Ref: John 21:15-17) We see also that the Lord gave gifts of the Spirit to the church and individuals, which were to help the members grow and mature in Christ. He showed this in Ephesians 4:11:14,
11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
So it is the teachers, preachers, prophets and pastors who have the responsibility for teaching the people the truth and for feeding the church so that they are not malnourished.
And what do they feed them? Knowledge of the working of the New Covenant and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And there were times that they failed. We see in the Old Testament that God was displeased with the priests and prophets for their failure in this responsibility. He said, “Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention O priest. You shall stumble by day, the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.” (Hosea 4:4-6)
Warning for Today
Jesus also warns the teachers and preachers about the need to do the right thing in relation to teaching the people the truth. He showed this in this parable in Luke 12:42-46.
42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?
43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing.
44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,
46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful.
The key here is in verse 42 about the steward who was put in charge (i.e. teachers, pastors and preachers etc…) giving the members of the house (i.e. God’s people) their portion of food (i.e. spiritual teachings and the truth) at the right time. When they do this they receive a blessing for the people of the household of God will grow strong, in peace and mature.
But when these people fail and take advantage of the household of God, they will suffer the consequences. You may think that people in the churches today are not beaten and that the religious leaders do not eat, drink and get drunk. But remember this is a spiritual teaching. Many church members are beaten down and captured in submission by the church by false and misleading teachings. The pastors take advantage of the people, fleece them of their money using false teachings to justify what they are doing and are indeed drunk with power over the flock. They are not good stewards but are dictators and their end will correspond to their deeds.
The right portions of spiritual food need to be fed to the people so that they will grow. I urge you to look to the Lord and seek out whether you are receiving that food. It is scriptural to do so for Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)
Do not blindly accept what anyone says. Seek the Lord for yourself and He will reveal whether the food you are being fed is the good spiritual food, or junk food. In the end it is you who will stand alone before the throne of God so you cannot afford to blindly accept anything from anyone without ensuring it is the words that will lead you to life.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Fleur Suijten)