God has given us a beautiful universe, amazing in its vastness: the great heavenly bodies hanging on nothing, the tiny parts of each atom of life, the color, the variety, the rhythm and motion of everything. Even with such wonders and beauty all around them, people still find it hard to trust in God. They seek miracles as proof of God’s presence with his messengers and the truth of their messages.
According to the Qur’an, Jesus’ disciples asked him if God could send them a special sign. They requested a table spread with delicious foods as one would find at a banquet. Instead of granting their request, Jesus warned them, “Fear God, if you have faith.”
The disciples persisted in their request. They insisted, “We want to eat from that Heavenly table until our hearts are satisfied. Then we will know you have really told us the truth. We want to be witnesses of this miracle.”
Jesus then spoke to God. “O God, our Lord, send us this table from heaven set with choice foods that will be a festival for us and a Sign for thee. Provide our sustenance for you are the one who sustains us.”
God answered that he would send that table down but warned that if the disciples still resisted believing after that, he would punish them with a penalty that would be harsher than any other people had received.
Thus we learn that the disciples’ faith was not complete. They put an undue emphasis on physical food, and they had a childish desire for miracles or signs. You can read this story in Sura 5:112-115.
Since the Bible is my authority in matters of faith and truth about God, let me share with you a story of a miraculous dinner that Jesus gave.
“Late in the afternoon the Twelve [disciples] came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They answered, ‘We have only five loaves of bread and two fish - unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.’ (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to the disciples, ‘Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ The disciples did so and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve baskets full of broken pieces that were left over.” (Luke 9:12-17)
The people were astonished. Some decided that he must be made their king, but Jesus sent them away, and ordered the disciples to leave also, while he went up into the mountains to pray. Later, the same people begged him for food again.
“What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (John 6:30-31)
Jesus’ reply startled the people and many of his followers left him because of these words:
“I am the bread of Life…I am the bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:35a, 41b, 54)
In this way Jesus discouraged the people from seeking miraculous physical food. At the same time he offered spiritual food to those who would believe.
All Christians regularly celebrate the ceremony called the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. Spiritual truth is experienced and rejoiced in while the participants eat small pieces of bread and drink small cups of wine or grape juice.
Are you tempted to seek miraculous signs instead of trusting God? Consider that Jesus Himself is the bread the Heavenly Father sent down. Consider these words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55:1-3a)
(The above information is from "Jesus Gives Peace: Jesus In The Qur'an and the Bible," written by Yusuf Abdallah) and from the book by the same title and author, pp. 29-31.