Let us read God’s inspired and inerrant Word:
A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the LORD. – 2 Kings 4:42-44
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47
May the Lord continue to add his blessing from the reading of his Word. Let us pray:
O Christ, by remaining faithful till death, you show us the road to greater love. O Christ, by taking the burden of sin upon yourself, you reveal to us the way of generosity. O Christ, by praying for those who crucified you, you lead us to forgive without counting the cost. O Christ, by opening paradise to the repentant thief, you awaken hope in us. O Christ, come and help our weak faith. O Christ, create a pure heart in us; renew and strengthen our spirit. O Christ, your Word is near; may it live within us and protect us always. Amen. (Worship Sourcebook)
In sum, Christ himself feeds us with his Word and we share him by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. This is the reality of things unseen. The church is a spiritual community: called by the Father, being fed by the Son and indwelt by the Spirit. Only those who are united to God through faith in Christ and empowered by the Spirit shares this reality. Those who are convicted by the law of God and embrace the gospel of Christ are sanctified by the Spirit. They are united to the one Spirit in prayer as the one body of Christ.
For the first point we will examine our text in the light of its redemptive historical context. We will go back to Elisha in the Old Testament and contrast his ministry as a type to the greater ministry of Christ. We will then move to the hard sayings of Jesus in John six where he feeds thousands, walked on water, and revealed himself as the Bread of Life. For the second point, we will examine the effects of Christ’s presence produced by the Spirit to the church community. We will establish the Christian convictions of living lives in gratitude to God by sharing Christ’s love with one another, and exhort each other to grow into maturity in the Holy Spirit.
Feeding on Christ
There in Acts 2:42 is a list of events often referred to by reformed pastors as the ordinary means of grace: the apostles’ teaching and fellowship as the preaching of the Gospel; the breaking of the bread as the sacraments; then prayer as of course, prayer.
This way of using text may be mistaken as proof texting which cult often also use. Perhaps the fact that this verse in context a narrative puts to the question the method of using it as list of the means of grace. So it important for any student to follow ways of interpreting Scripture that honors the method of interpreting Scripture with Scripture.
So it begs the question, from where else in Scripture can help us better understand Acts 2:42?
The Gospel books I think offer a good match to parallel the events listed in Acts 2:42. The apostles’ teaching and fellowship must have come from Luke 24:27 where Jesus explained to his apostles how the whole of Scripture points to him. At the same time, we can read from verse 34, same chapter, the term “the breaking of the bread” mentioned which we can reasonably connect as the same “the breaking of the bread” event from Acts 2:42. Lastly we can say the same with prayer, although from different chapter but same book, Luke in Chapter 11. So the larger context does exist.
Now the continuity between the larger context (Gospel books) and our specific text (Acts 2:42) needs justification so we go back again to Scripture to look for such warrant and counting the significant events recorded in the Gospel books, we can discern from the larger context connected events reported by all Gospel writers namely the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the Lord’s Supper during Passover. These events will provide for us an in-depth understanding of the events listed on Acts 2:42.
Jesus performed another miraculous sign of feeding a multitude out of a merger supply of bread and fish. This is a prophetic fulfillment of another miracle from the Old Testament when Elisha fed an army of hundred (2 Kings 4:42-44). So for Jesus performing this sign again but in a larger scale meant he is signifying to everyone that the one greater than both Elijah and Elisha was in their midst.
Jesus is greater than all the prophets both in ministry and substance. Jesus is the perfect revelation of God for he himself is God. Now the implication of his divine nature is the reality of things unseen. We need to understand that Jesus himself is the object of revelation but at the same time sustainer of all things in creation. All prophets receives everything from Him! They all feed on Christ.
So it is a great lack of understanding when the disciples and the crowd missed the significance of Jesus feeding the multitude. There is an unseen reality at work when Jesus fed them bread and fish. He is using a lesser and greater logic, if-this-is-true-how-much-more event. If Jesus can supply them abundantly all material supply to feed them, then how much more in reality he supplies all their spiritually needs. Jesus said in John 6:32-35, “Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Moses like Elijah and Elisha was a prophet and Jesus was saying that he is greater than Moses. In fact, Moses also feeds on him. Jesus declares he is the bread of life and he is the one who feeds them all! This is why the disciples wants Jesus to always give them this bread.
Now Jesus during his last passover with the disciples he purposely brought to himself the symbolism of the paschal meal. He inaugurated in their midst the fulfilment of the unseen reality of Jesus feeding them continually even after his death and resurrection when he said: “Then he took a cup,and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant,which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27-29)
The kingdom of God has been inaugurated by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This is the Gospel of Christ. Acts 2:42 happens right after Christ’s ascension and the outpouring of the Spirit. This is the beginning of the end. It projects to the consummation of everything is Christ as Philippians 2 asserts. Later we will see how this informs our way of living but simply put, Christ as he promised will continue to feed his people with himself by the Spirit. He is the reality of things unseen when we all devote ourselves in the preaching of the Gospel, administer the sacraments, and pray.
Christ himself feeding us is the unseen reality “the breaking of the bread” ordinary and visibly demonstrate. We feast on Christ as one body and all manifestations of our fellowship with one another is energized by this reality of things unseen. He is in our midst when we pray together as one body in him. Acts 2:42 is best understood with this larger context that Jesus himself feeds his church.
So we feed on Christ and as a consequence we share Christ in the body. But what does it mean to share Christ?
Sharing of Christ
To share Christ means to share with one another the fruit of the Holy Spirit which Christ himself produces. As the order of salvation is produced in the life of an elect believer, it is followed by the necessary fruit of saving faith.
Westminster Shorter Catechism reads:
Q#36: What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
Ans: The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
Now there is much parallelism between the events narrated from Acts 2:43-47 with the benefits listed from WSC Q#36, as well as with the spiritual virtues listed by Paul from Galatians 5:22-23:
|Acts 2:43-47||WSC Q#36||Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)|
|And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.||assurance of God’s love,||love|
|And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.||peace of conscience,||peace|
|And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.||joy in the Holy Ghost,||joy|
|And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.||increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.||patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control|
This is the spiritual reality of Christian community: they who feed on Christ feast with one another the person and work of Jesus which he himself shares by the Spirit. The assurance of God’s love secured by Christ’s work is the love shared by each believer as they worship God in reverance and awe. The peace of conscience brought by Christ’s righteousness is the peace shared by each believer as they put first the needs of other above themselves. The joy in the Holy Spirit brought by Christ’s sanctifying grace which each believer shares in nurture, hospitality and humble service. And lastly, the increase of grace, and perseverance in the end brought by our hope in Christ enabling each one to mature in the faith, helping one another, serving one another, loving one another.
And yet we all know sin remains even in the midst of this militant church. Which is why we need to guard one another from false teachings that leads to false living.
Sanctification includes fighting sin and putting off our own fleshly tendencies to tear down rather than to build up. When we say we accept each other as members of this church with their profession of faith, we can often make the mistake of unwisely and even deliberately pushing them to sin rather than building them up in love. We need to give each other the benefit of the doubt and charitably allow one another to recognize their own tendencies to isolate ourselves from sin and genuinely care for each others spiritual being. And practically speaking it will simply not happen without knowing each other well enough by spending quality time with one another. Maturity takes time. Spiritual growth takes time. It requires patience, faithfulness, humility and self-control. Let me zero in on humility as way for applying this spiritual reality.
One lesson I learned on humility is found in Philippians 2:3 where Paul exhorts his readers to follow Christ’s humility. Paul wrote: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” My personal objection on this verse was how can count others more significant than myself when I know for a fact that maybe greater than others? Does this not count as false humility? I soon realized this false humility comes from a false way of thinking.
Tagalugin ko. Si Kristo lang ang may karapatang tawagin tunay na mapagkumbaba. Bakit? Kase ang sukat ng pagbaba ay malalaman lamang sa taas ng pinanggalingan. Si Kristo ay Dios na totoo na kinuha para sa kanya ang isang pagkataong tunay na buhay bilang alipin, namatay bilang kriminal, nilibing sa lupa na para wala! Wala nang may bababa pa dun. Ngayon may mga ibang mga tao din naman na nangyari sa kanila yun pero ano ang pagkakaiba? Hindi sila Dios! They deserve the lowered estate because they were not even higher to begin with. But not with Christ! Siya ang pinakamataas sa lahat tapos bumaba siya! Grabeng pagsundo sa kanyang Ama at totoong pagmamahal ng Dios ang naipakita nya!
Ngayon, si Kristo na nagpakumbaba at ngayon na itinaas ng Ama sa langit ang nagiisang Kristo na nagpapakain sa ating lahat. Ulitin ko. Siya mismo ang nagpapakain sa atin lahat ng kanyang sarili. Kaya nga, kung mayroon naman sa ating napagpala ng karunungan, ng biyaya ng pag-ibig, kapayapaan, kagalakan, hindi ba’t lahat ng yun ay dala lamang ng pagkain natin sa iiisang katawan ni Kristo? Kaya nga maari mong maituring na mas mahalaga ang iyong kapatid kaysa sa iyo kase hindi naman ikaw ang nagpapakain sa kanila.
Oo maaring ngayon mas nakatatanda ka sa mga aspeto ng kabanalan pero hindi mo nakita sa si Kristo ang nasa kanila so di ba lalabas ikaw ngayon ang mas mababa kaysa kanila? Walang takas sa kababaang loob dala ng kababaan ni Kristo sa atin kase siya lang ang may karapatang magmaganda. Siya nga hanggang ngayon patuloy na nagtataas ng mas mababa kasya sa kanya at ikaw itong sa kanya din nakain para ipakain mo din Siya sa iba ay walang karapatang magpaipababaw sapagkat kahit kailangan wala sa atin ang maging mas mataas kahit kanino man maliban lang kay Kristo.
I pray knowing this motivates us to love each other and serve one another in humility and hope. Let us count other believers greater than ourselves because the One greater than all of us is the same Christ who feeds and sustains them by his Spirit. This is what it means when say we put on Christ. So let us put on Christ’s humilty and service.
ZCRC (Imus), Christ is the bread of life. He alone feeds us with himself by his Word and Spirit. Let us continue share all the spiritual blessings that Chirst himself provides to all of God’s people. Amen.
Rev. Lance Filio is a minister of the Word and Sacraments at Zion Cornerstone Reformed Church (Imus). He finished his Bachelor Degree in Electronics Engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology and He is currently taking his Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) at MINTS. He lives in Taguig City, Philippines with his wife and three children.