Over the past weeks as we followed Matthew’s account of the Gospel, Jesus has been teaching in parables. Today, at Matthew 14:13-21, we see Jesus teaching in a miracle.
A miracle not only witnessed by over 5,000 people but one in which they were all participants.
The day, however, did not begin well for Jesus when he received some very sad news. John the Baptist, his cousin, had been executed on the orders of Herod.
It would have come as a great loss. The two were close and, in His grief, we can understand that He wanted a little time away from the demands and the noise of the crowds.
So, with the Disciples, He took a boat and went to what Matthew describes as (14:13), “a solitary place” to be alone. But there was to be no peace for Jesus. Such was their need of Him that the people followed Him, walking round the lake.
People who were ill; people needing guidance; people who had walked miles and struggled to reach Him in this lonely, remote spot, all looking to Him for help,
Putting his own concerns aside, He helped them. He healed them. He loved them. Matthew tells us “He had compassion on them”. (14:14)
As the day wore on and time got later, the Disciples realised the people were starting to get hungry and restless. Their solution? Get Jesus to tell the people to go away and fend for themselves.
After all, there was no way they had enough food for such a crowd. All they could find was five little loaves and a couple of small fish. Jesus’ response to the Disciples? “You give them something to eat”. (14:16)
If we substitute ourselves for the Disciples, what would have been our reaction? Say, “It can’t be done”!
The difficulty we have is that, like the Disciples, we look at our limitations. Jesus, on the other hand, looks at our potential when we work with Him; that is the difference.
He wasn’t going to leave these people who were hungry. And He would not leave the Disciples to deal with the problem on their own either. He was with them.
Whether we are the people in the crowd who are tired, hungry and in a lonely, desolate place in our life, or are the Disciples faced with a seemingly impossible situation, Christ is with us.
Jesus took what was offered, gave thanks to God, then passed the food to the Disciples who distributed it to the crowd. Miraculously, all were fed with a huge surplus left over (13:20).
Here we see that Jesus gives us not just enough help to get by, but more than enough to keep us going.
The disciples looked only at what little resources they had. They looked at the size of the problem. They looked everywhere except to Jesus.
They had forgotten or seemed oblivious to the fact that there, with them, they also had Jesus, the Son of God. Perhaps, that is something that we too often forget. Instead, we can focus too much on our limitations.
Yes, there are many things we cannot do, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss challenging situations because we cannot meet them completely.
We can take ourselves to Christ, with our limited resources, our uncertainties and our questions. Then say, “here I am, what do you want me to do”?
Last week we read of the Parables of the Mustard Seed and Yeast. Tiny seeds that grew into something tremendous and a small, seemingly insignificant amount of yeast that transformed heavy dough to become light bread.
In this miracle, we see those parables come alive. For the Disciples, the message of those parables brought to life the transforming power of Jesus on their lives and their resources.
Jesus takes us and whatever gifts we have, He takes ideas, resources, a sense of humour, time, energy, talents, love, artistic gifts, skill with words or our hands, whatever we have to offer.
He holds them before his Father with prayer and blessing. Then, and here’s the wonderful thing, He gives them back to us ready for us to use in His service.
Through our willingness to act, to share and to help, the compassion of Jesus can reach out to others today.
“You give them something to eat”. Jesus does His work through His disciples, through us. He waits for us who have received, to help Him in the World, and where we are today.
Let us pray,
Loving Lord God, as Jesus took what little was offered, blessed it, and shared it so that all were filled, we pray that when we offer ourselves, You bless us that we may become a blessing to others. Help us serve out Your love to those around us, and in the world.
Lord Jesus Christ, as you once fed the hungry crowds with five loaves and two small fish, we bring to you in prayer, those who hunger for food and have little to eat.
We bring to You too those who are emotionally empty; those who are lonely and long for companionship and love, who are caught in the grip of depression, or overwhelmed with grief.
Today, there are also many who are spiritually empty; who are troubled, but don’t know where to turn; who long for purpose and meaning, but don’t know where to look; who need You, but do not yet know You.
You are the living bread, pour out Your Spirit, so that all, no matter their hunger, may be filled.
Amen, and as we go on, may we go with God’s blessing.