Being With Jesus:
John 6:11 (NLT)
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.
This easy-to-overlook verse is sandwiched between two of Jesus’ outstanding miracles—the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two small fish, and the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. Not only that, at the end of this lengthy chapter is some of the heaviest theology that Jesus would ever lay on his would-be followers. It was so demanding and confrontational, in fact, that his followers called it a “hard saying”, and many of them quit following him from that point on.
With so much important stuff going on in this chapter, it would be easy to miss the fact that Jesus stopped to give thanks before a meal. Think about that for a moment: Why would Jesus do that? In a sense, wasn’t he really saying grace to himself? What purpose did this serve?
To begin with, I think Jesus was truly grateful to his Father for this provision of resources by which the miraculous feeding could occur. I think Jesus was authentically thankful that his Father had authorized the use of Divine power and was about to yet again authenticate the Messianic ministry and mission of the Son. I think the Second Person of the eternal Trinity was a fundamentally grateful being. It was just who Jesus was; the organic overflow of his Divine nature was love, joy, confidence and, in this case, gratitude.
Jesus—the eternal, self-existence One—said grace before his meal. And if Jesus, who didn’t have to do it, did it, then we, who don’t have to do it, most definitely should!
Not only that, Jesus was modeling for us the appropriateness and power of gratitude. He was reminding us by his actions that it doesn’t hurt to stop and express thanksgiving to God, and one of the simplest and recurring ways to enter into gratitude is to say a simple “thank you” before each meal.
We don’t know exactly what Jesus said in his prayer, but it was likely short and sweet. John simply says he “gave thanks”. He acknowledged God in that moment, drawing attention to the Heavenly Provider and reminding both himself and those who were within earshot of his dependence on and gratitude to Father God.
That is something you and I can do too, each time we sit down (or drive through) for a meal. We can give thanks. As redundant and useless and perfunctory as it may seem, there is power in this simple act. And if Jesus, who didn’t have to do it, did it, then we, who don’t have to do it, most definitely should!