“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ These are the words of Jesus, after feeding thousands from five loaves of bread and two fish.” John 6:12
These are the words of Jesus, “Let nothing be wasted.”
But what do they mean? Jesus just fed five thousand people with five fish and two loaves of bread, and he’s concerned about leftovers and waste? It seems silly to me, really, that the Provider of All, wants to save some bread and fish for later, in case . . . . Maybe it’s just that I’m reading this at 6:30 in the morning and my mind hasn’t woken up yet.
The words chase me all day. “Let nothing be wasted.” So I understand that God doesn’t waste anything. He doesn’t waste time, energy, resources. That’s good. The environmentalists can rejoice. If Jesus lived on earth today, he’d be the guy who turns off the water while brushing his teeth or washing his hair in the shower.
But I know the words go deeper. God is more than resourceful. Scriptures and stories come to me. The “wasted” years Joseph spent in Egypt, in prison” weren’t a waste at all. David’s years hiding from Saul, running for his life. Not a waste. Paul’s words, “…in all things God works for the good…” No circumstances, sin, or pain are wasted by God.
Ponder the fact that after the miracle, there was more. After Jesus worked, he had more to give. The people’s needs did not surpass the Giver’s gifts. Paul’s words again come to mind, “…him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” Immeasurably more. Jesus not only satisfied the hunger of those five thousand men, he foreshadowed that he had more to give. More to offer than loaves and fish.
He offered his very self on the cross for our sins. He rose from the grave and is interceding for us in heaven. Do you think he’s saying those same words? “Let nothing be wasted.” Is he pleading that his sacrifice not be wasted or go unnoticed, unaccepted?
But how do these words affect my daily life? “Let nothing be wasted.” After God has poured into me all I need, what is leftover? Can I gather those leftover pieces and give them to others? This is the call to ministry. To gather, save, and give. Because really, the disciples couldn’t have hung on to those leftover loaves and fish for too long before rot set in. So these words are also a call to trust. To give freely of what we don’t need in the moment, knowing that tomorrow, the miracle happens again.
“Let nothing be wasted.” I have a feeling I’m going to be pondering these words for a while.