One of the painful lessons of life is learning the truth that, indeed, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” From the bag of candy that came with the obligation to clean our room, to the 3 free nights in Cancun that came with the obligation to spend an additional $3000 for the airfare home, life trains us to look with jaundiced eye at the word, “Free!”
No, there’s no such thing as a free lunch…but then, what is this in Matthew 14: 13-21, that Jesus provides on the beach? It looks suspiciously like…well, one of those “free lunches” we’ve been told to avoid. So what is Jesus’ angle?
Well…he heals the sick of the crowd first it says. Did he then enroll them in his academy to begin paying fees immediately?
No…it just says he healed their sick. Hmmm…there must’ve been a bigger hook waiting in the background. So he has the disciples bring the 2 fish & 5 bread loaves to him. And he offered free to the first 7 takers of his new life improvement program…No, it says he gave thanks for them, and gave them to his disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowd…And a miracle happened; the small little lunch turned out, handful by handful, to be enough to feed the entire crowd of 5,000 men and their families.
It must have been a tease; that’s when Jesus signed them up to join his 12 step program to self-actualization, complete with $250 DVD series…No, it simply says they all ate and were satisfied…and after they had ate Jesus dismissed the crowd.
Well, so it was free, the only truly free lunch in the whole history of the world. Whoopie; what’s the big deal?
Ok, you’ve got me – there was something else Jesus wanted. You see, Jesus in Johns gospel goes onto say that He is the bread of life; all who come to Him will never go hungry, and all who believe Him will never go thirsty (John 6:35).
Jesus wants us to go beyond the free lunch of grace to the life that satisfies, to the work that renews us as we do it. In short, what Jesus has provided through the cross, viewed through the eyes of faith in the symbols of bread and wine, is a teaser lunch – one that invites us deeper into the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to discover that our lives were meant to be full, satisfying and overflowing with hope and peace into the lives of those around us. This is, after all, He who said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
So the choice is ours - to spend our life looking under the table for the hidden catch, or to sit down with the Host to find a life that really is worth living, and really is satisfying.