Leaving a Legacy, Part One

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” – John 6:5

Let me ask you a few trivia questions. Who were the last three Nobel Peace Prize winners? Name the last three Miss Americas. Who were the starting quarterbacks for the last three Super Bowl Champions? If you’re like me you’ll struggle to come up with even one name. But if I were to ask you to name a teacher who positively impacted your life, a Sunday School teacher who sparked your faith, or a neighbor whose kindness touched your life, I’m guessing you’d have very little trouble coming up with names. Fame doesn’t make a legacy; love does.

The story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels, perhaps because it has so many profound things to teach us. I think this text teaches us three important lessons regarding the legacy we leave behind us.

Here’s the first lesson: We live in a hungry world. This story is, at one level, about hunger. An enormous crowd had followed Jesus to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. They had heard him teach and had witnessed his healing miracles and they just couldn’t get enough of him. Problem was that when they followed him they forgot to pack a lunch. By mid-day they were a bunch of hungry people. Even the best preacher can’t hold a crowd when their stomachs start growling.

Jesus seizes this opportunity to teach his disciples about the real hunger of this world, and it isn’t for bread alone; it’s for the Bread of Life that only Jesus can provide.

This world is still desperately hungry for the Bread of Life. You can walk around most of the neighborhoods we live in and see people who appear to have all they need, but if we could peer into their lives with the eyes of the Spirit we would see just how many people are starving to death because they have no connection with the Bread of Life. They have nothing with which to feed their soul.

Dionne Warwick got it right – “What this world needs now is love, sweet love.” People need the love of Jesus in their lives, but more often than not they will begin to dare to believe in a Lord of love when they meet people like you who are willing to be God’s love in the flesh, people who are willing to pour out their lives into the lives of others.

What does this have to do with your legacy? Just this: this world is desperate for your legacy of love poured out in Jesus’ name. What better fingerprints could you possibly leave on this earth than the fingerprints of God’s love? And every single one of us, no matter what your age or station in life, can leave that kind of legacy every day. You are God’s messenger, and the message is God’s love in Jesus Christ. We live in a hungry world, so leave a legacy of God’s love behind you.

Bringing It Home:
1. Whose legacy has marked your life and journey of faith? How?
2. Send a note of gratitude to someone whose life of faith has touched you. Let them know about the legacy they are leaving behind.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the people you’ve placed in my life who have nurtured my faith and made a difference in my life. As I look ahead and consider the legacy that I want to leave behind, help me to keep you firmly in my sights. More than anything I want my life to point others to you and your saving love. This I pray in your name and power. Amen.

Jeff Marian
Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, Columbus, OH

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