Jesus Saves His Leftovers

A minor detail in a story can lead us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of God's character.
Camden McAfee

Camden McAfee


Yesterday I was reading in John 6 with a desire to be filled. I asked, “God, show me something new from Scripture.” And he did.

Photo by on Unsplash

Part 1

In the middle of the wilderness, Jesus goes up on a mountain, surrounded by this massive crowd. He takes loaves and fish, gives thanks, breaks them, and gives them to the disciples to hand out.

Toward the end of the story, Jesus says, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost” (v. 13).

Huh. Okay. So I guess Jesus loves leftovers?

Part 2

The next day, Jesus and his disciples are on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (read more in John 6:16-21). Many people from the same crowd make the trek on foot to see Jesus.

There’s a lot of good dialogue, like where Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (v. 35). The whole paragraph is great (vv. 35-40), but I want to stress verse 39.

John 6:39
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

Part 3

Let’s put those two verses side by side.

“Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me.”

What’s going on here? A seemingly insignificant detail in a story may tell us something important about the nature of God. 

Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven (feeding the 5,000 from his place on the mountain). He came into our desolate wilderness world to crowds of people hungry for life. He took his one body, gave thanks to God, and broke it to feed our hungry souls.

What about all those leftover pieces? (Interestingly, only the bread is mentioned as being collected.) Jesus cares about each leftover piece because each represents a piece of him and his saving care for each who receives him. Like twelve baskets, twelve men would go on to do the same thing—passing on the life of Jesus through their own lives.

Jesus saves his leftovers so that they too (so that we, too) can become broken agents of healing to a starving world.

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