Matthew 14:13-21 / マタイ１４：１３−２１
Our text for this morning is the well-known story of Jesus miraculously feeding the 5,000. It’s the only miracle account that appears in all 4 gospels.
As our reading begins, Herod has just killed John the Baptist and Jesus has just heard this tragic news. He retreats to a quiet place… but the crowds follow him and find him. Jesus looks on the crowds and seeing their great need – he feels compassion for them – and spends the day healing many of them. As evening approaches the disciples come to Jesus and say “the people are hungry, it’s late, send them home so they can buy something to eat.” Jesus says to them “there’s no need to send them home. You give them something.” The disciples reply that “we have only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.” Jesus then says: “bring them to me.” He then tells the people to sit down, looks toward heaven, gives thanks, breaks the bread, and distributes the food to the disciples who then give it to the people. All eat and are filled – with 12 baskets left over.
What interests me the most today is the unusual position in which Jesus seems to put the disciples. They are afforded an opportunity to participate in a great miracle – as well as seemingly put in a place of great difficulty. While Jesus could have fed the crowds without their help, he chooses to involve them – “You give them something.” For the disciples, the situation seems hopeless. Too many people, no food, no resources of their own. Yet Jesus invites them to bring the small items that they DO have – 5 loaves and 2 fish. In the end, it is of course the power of God that brings about the miracle of bounty – food for everyone! Yet, it requires risk and faith on the part of the disciples to bring (redistribute) the limited resources that they do possess.
Isn’t this what happens to us everyday? We see the world’s needs all around us – in our community, city, state, nation, and world – and we tend to feel hopeless in the face of it all. The problems are too large. How can we make a difference at all?
And yet, Jesus invites us every day to bring the small items that we have – our money, our time, our abilities, our commitment to prayer, etc. – to offer them to him. It’s God’s job to multiply and bless the offerings – but it’s our job to bring our small resources to God – and believe that it matters.
Jesus invites us daily to participate in the miracle of God’s provision for others.
But it’s scary and risky. Will there be enough for us? Will WE be OK if we sacrificially give? Can we count on Jesus to supply the needs of our neighbors…. as well as ourselves? This account in Matthew not only seems to encourage a resounding “YES” to that question but even indicates that it may be the ONLY way that the crowds’ needs will be met. What items do YOU have to redistribute today? What are the loaves and fish that you wish to offer the Master?
(the above is a summary of the message shared during our JCC ZOOM worship session on August 2, 2020.)