Continuing with the theme of the Jewish feasts, Jesus today takes on the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which begins with Passover (6:4). Passover is the first day of the Unleavened Bread Festival, and itself begins with the Seder feast. It is the celebration and remembrance of the Exodus, God’s act of freeing His people from slavery in Egypt through Moses. When God was finished demolishing Egypt through 10 plagues, He prepared His people for their exodus by commanding that they bake bread without yeast so it would keep on the march to freedom. Thus, bread becomes a powerful symbol of this feast.
When Jesus fed the 5000 (actually far more: there were 5000 men but an uncounted amount of women and children as well), he used bread not just to feed a hungry crowd, and not just to prove His miraculous power, but to speak through symbol to the Passover. Just as the people were given their freedom from Egypt, so Jesus was about to give them an even greater freedom from their sinfulness, from the Law that bound them, and from the uncleanness that was their state because of sin.
This miracle pointed to the bread of the Passover feast, but also to the manna given them during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. As God provided for their need through the bread from heaven, so Jesus is providing for their immediate hunger and eternal salvation through Himself. In fact, tomorrow we will talk about one of Jesus’ seven “I Am…” statements when He says, “I Am the bread of life…”
How has Jesus provided for you? Beyond the obvious death and resurrection, what other ways has Jesus met your needs and, like the 12 baskets of leftovers, done so bountifully? And what is your reaction? Do you follow Him as He asks, or do you follow your own plan like those fed who tried to make Him king by force?