“And the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Whenever I read this verse I think that Jesus and my grandmother had a lot in common. She, too, was big on leftovers.
As a senior in high school, I shared many midday meals with my grandmother. I took only a few classes and finished my day by noon. Since she lived near the school, I’d leave early and do lunch with her and my mom, who arrived during her office lunch break.
My grandmother rarely served us sandwiches and chips. To her, that was a snack. Nannie’s typical midday meal included a hot main dish, assorted vegetable side dishes—stewed tomatoes was my favorite—homemade biscuits, dessert, and cheese. That was just a noon meal. You can imagine a Sunday dinner. Or a holiday feast.
Where do leftovers come in? Well, Nannie wasn’t as intent on using up leftovers as she was on creating them. For her, the sign of a well-thought-out meal was leaving behind plenty of leftovers to testify to the bounty we’d enjoyed.
Creating leftovers also made life easier . . .
Before microwaves and high efficiency ovens and precooked and instant versions of things, cooking took much more time. Leftovers guaranteed that the family could eat well for several meals while the woman of the house spent her energy elsewhere. Years ago, my grandmother threw all her leftovers into soups, which she kept simmering in a huge pot on her stove. Anyone who stopped by–milkman, mailman, gossipy neighbor–was treated to a cup. That was the only way she could serve hot food instantly.
Another plus for visiting Nannie’s when you were hungry: she used to run a general store. (Picture Ike Godsey’s shop on The Waltons.) Because she believed in keeping more than enough on hand, my grandmother had a seemingly endless supply of Nutty Buddy Ice Cream Cones, Necco Wafers, Birch Beer soda, and every Hersheys chocolate bar they made back then. All free for the taking for the kids and grandkids!
No wonder so many of us viewed wherever Nannie was as the place we’d end up filled to the brim, the place we’d never go away from hungry.
These thoughts filter through my mind when I read verses about Jesus’ provision of food and drink while He was here on earth, like this example from Mark 14 . . .
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Jesus didn’t limit His provision to what was needed for His followers to “just get by.” He didn’t do snacks. He was far more generous than that. He filled His people to the brim so they wouldn’t be hungry again for a long, long time. And He made sure there were leftovers. Why?
- Maybe to reward the hard-working disciples
- Maybe as evidence of what had occurred
- Maybe to fix a picture in our minds of His ability to be all that we need and more to live victoriously today . . .
And for all eternity . . . “But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will throw a feast
For all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods,
A feast with vintage wines,
A feast of seven courses,
A feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain,
God will banish the pall of doom
Hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom
Darkening all nations.
Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe
The tears from every face.
He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
Yes! God says so!”~from Isaiah 25~
Maranatha! I’m thankful for what we have to look forward to—aren’t you?