The other day I was out at a local park with my wife and granddaughter, which also had a pond. We ate lunch and then took the leftovers and started to feed the ducks. Up to that point they had not shown much interest in us but as soon as the food started to “fly”, they came running in droves. After our leftovers were consumed, the ducks stayed around us for only a short time before departing. I looked across the way and saw an older couple with several bags of bread. They were standing on the pier throwing whole pieces of bread into the water. Soon, they were surrounded by countless ducks who waited to be fed. It appeared to me that this couple came to feed the ducks often. But, even so, when they ran out of bread, they were treated the same as we had been. The ducks waited for just a short period of time. Then, just as quickly as they had flocked to the couple, they left the couple standing alone on the once popular pier. It was clear to me from watching that couple, that no matter how often they came to feed them, the ducks were only interested in one thing, and it wasn’t that they enjoyed the company of the couple. No, in the end, it was the bread the ducks wanted, and as long as the old couple supplied it, they would stay. But as soon as the food was gone, so were they. They had no allegiance. For the ducks, it was all about getting physically fed.
My observation about the “feeding of the ducks” is nothing new to anyone who has ever been a part of or observed this ritual. However, what is notable is how easy it is to draw a parallel of “ducks to men”. During the lifetime of Jesus he spoke of this very phenomena. It is recorded in the sixth chapter of John. Prior to this, Jesus had performed miracles in feeding the people more than once with fish and bread. The people loved him for it. Here was a man who could give them physical sustenance and they “flocked” around him. On one occasion the multitude found out that Jesus had left them during the night and was reported to be in a small city across the sea, They frantically rented boats and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. There Jesus had this exchange with them:
“And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (vs. 25-26)
He then taught them that they needed to seek for the eternal “bread” of life, which comes from the Father, not just for a physical fulfilling of their bodies. He taught them that they needed to believe in Him and to follow His commandments. Then he taught this very important lesson.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your father did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever…”. (vs 47-51).
Then, the scriptures record the results of the Savior’s disclosure that He is not there to physically feed them, but to spiritually feed them. The scriptures record in verse sixty six:
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”.
Tragically, many of the disciples had unknowingly been no better than a duck in their allegiance to the Savior of the world. Life as a follower of Jesus Christ does require more than just “looking to be fed”. It requires faith, hope, work and a desire to follow His ways. The true test of anyone is when things don’t go well in this physical world. Being a follower of Christ requires more than being like a duck whose love and devotion is given to whoever has free bread in hand.
May we be faithful and true, even when we can’t see bread falling from the hands of the “Master.” His promises are true and everlasting. He will feed us long after our bodies are in the grave and the world is passed away. Faith in His words will truly bring us eternal life!