John 6:13-14 - So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that He had done, they said, "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!"
In the early years of the 1900s, it was common for most neighborhoods to have their own corner bar. Depending on who you talk to, these taverns were the devil's den of iniquity, or a delightful departure from the drudgeries of the day.
At any rate, the owners of these establishments would put out food, usually salty foods such as ham and peanuts and pretzels and popcorn: anything that would make the clientele desperate for a drink. "Help yourself to the free lunch" read the sign above the table. But remember, everything on the table was designed to make you thirsty enough to buy a beer or 12.
In short, there was no such thing as a free lunch. Most of us know the updated version of that expression: "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is."
Even though we know about no free lunches, and things too good to be true, that doesn't stop us from searching for the free lunch. When the lottery gets to a monumental figure, the free-lunchers circle the counter like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Almost all of us, down deep, are free-lunchers looking for an easy way, someway, anyway, to reap what we haven't sown.
Fifteen-hundred years before Jesus, the children of Israel wanted a free lunch. God had, with powerful proofs, delivered them from slavery in Egypt. But that wasn't enough. They wanted more. They wanted to tell God what to serve in that free lunch, how to serve it, when to serve it, and to whom He should serve it.
Fifteen centuries later, Jesus, God's Son, our Savior, fed well over 5,000 people with a few fish and some bread. The crowd thought, "We have hit the jackpot, picked the Powerball, our horse has come in; we have struck the mother lode."
They were looking for Jesus, but not as a Savior from their sins, not as a Redeemer from all they had done wrong, not as a substitute who would fulfill the laws they had broken, who would take the punishment they had earned, who would die the death they deserved. No, they wanted a free lunch. Literally. They wanted food to fill their bellies, medicine for their maladies.
I suppose it's not much different today. People are still looking for a free lunch from the Lord.
Say a certain prayer, in a certain way, quoting a certain Old Testament personality, and God will give you wealth and health, riches and rewards, beyond your imagining.
"If your faith is strong enough," say the free-lunch preachers, "God has promised to give you anything, everything you want."
Lay claim to God, and you will have Him in a heavenly choke hold. He must submit to your supplications, surrender to your requests. Even though almost 2,000 years have come and gone since Jesus walked the earth, some folk are still not looking for a Savior; they want a free lunch, and more.
So, the summary of this devotion is there's no such thing as a free lunch, but by God's grace there is free salvation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that I may be thankful for Your many gifts which my Savior gives, but I have neither earned nor deserved. For His sacrifice which makes salvation free, receive my deepest gratitude. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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