I know that not everyone is a big fan of leftovers. Me? I’m a big fan. Knowing that I can rummage through the fridge and find something to eat instead of having to make something, well that’s a huge bonus. I’m already looking forward to the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. I should be able to get away with not cooking for at least a few good days.
Have you ever considered the concept of spiritual leftovers? Honestly, I never had, until I read something in Scripture this week. It caused me to think in a whole new way.
In Matthew 14 we read the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. The disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftovers after everyone’s stomachs were full. In Matthew 15 we read a very similar story of Jesus feeding 4,000 with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. This time the disciples picked up 7 basketfuls of leftovers. Pretty amazing stuff! You would think that these experiences would have been burned forever into the disciples’ minds, wouldn’t you? How could you ever possibly forget something like that? And yet, in Matthew 16:5-11 we read this:
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread?”
I could write an entire lesson on the significance of why Jesus was warning the disciples about the teachings of the religious leaders in their day, but that’s not my purpose right now. (That was more for me than you because I was about to chase a different rabbit and needed to remind myself to stay on task.)
Don’t miss the significance of Jesus asking, “Don’t you remember?” Pay close attention to what He was asking the disciples to remember:
Think about it. Jesus could have easily said something like, “Why are you worried about not having any bread? Don’t you remember that God parted the Red Sea and rescued your ancestors from slavery? Don’t you remember that God rescued Daniel from the lion? Don’t you remember that God sent manna from heaven every morning?” Really, the list of examples that Jesus could have used are endless. And yet, Jesus purposefully directed their attention to something the disciples had experienced for themselves.
Now, I’m just speculating here, but why did the disciples not bring the leftovers with them in the boat? Where had they left all those baskets? And if they had brought the leftovers with them, would they have better understood Jesus’ statement to “guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” because they wouldn’t have been distracted by their lack of bread? Maybe because they didn’t have the leftovers with them,
they forgot about Jesus’ miraculous ability to produce bread at will and
they missed the whole point of what He was trying to say because they were too distracted by what they didn’t have that they should have had in the first place. (did you get that?)
Now before you go and accuse the disciples of having short-term memory loss or just being dumb (come on, you know you’ve thought it) let’s ask ourselves, do we do the same thing?
Work with me here.
As a follower and believer in Jesus, has there been a time when you have experienced God richly blessing you with all that you needed? What about a time where He not only supplied your needs but blessed you with more than you even asked for? Has your heart ever felt like it could overflow with gratitude? When we hang on to those precious memories and experiences it’s like collecting basketfuls of leftovers. Big, beautiful baskets full of leftover blessings.
The next time you find yourself in a difficult season and wonder what you are going to do, lean in. You may hear Jesus sweetly asking,
“Don’t you remember?”
When we take time to pull out those basketfuls of leftovers and recount the many ways God has provided for us in the past, amazing things begin to happen. We are reminded that God was faithful to us then, and He will be faithful to us now.
This Thanksgiving, let’s pull out those basketfuls of leftovers… and remember.