DD April 1, 2020



A Word with Pastor Stephen – April 1, 2020

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21 NIV)

I hope most of us are familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Jesus was seeking solitude after hearing the news that John the Baptist had been executed. Unfortunately, Jesus can never find much time to himself. However, people always invoke compassion in Jesus.

On this occasion it is a lot of people pressing in on him. Our passage says it was “about five thousand men, besides women and children.” We can only guess at the actual number. I think Jesus is being deliberately provocative when he responds to the disciples’ request to send the people away by telling them, “You give them something to eat.”

Here is the key. Alone the disciples are helpless to feed all those people, but with Jesus there is always more than enough. Jesus takes the two fish and five loaves of bread, which the disciples think is all there is, and blessed them and suddenly everyone eats until they are full and twelve baskets of food are leftover.

Too often we and the disciples focus on scarcity, while Jesus focuses on the extravagant and gracious abundance of God. When we open our hearts to compassion and give what we have, God will multiply the gifts to meet the needs.

We really are living in that kind of world today. We have a feeling that there is just not enough. We have to grab onto what we can and hold it with a vice grip. Take what you can and hoard it. Don’t worry about anyone else. There is not enough out there.

Only when we let go and experience the unconditional, unearned, unmerited and infinite love of God, can we move from a world of scarcity to a world of infinite abundance. That’s when the doors of mercy blow wide open. That’s when you begin to understand the "twelve baskets left over" nature of the gospel.

The hunger for love and hope in our world is so deep and wide that it might seem overwhelming. But Jesus is telling us, bring me what you have and by my blessing, everyone will eat. Everyone will be filled. Everyone will have enough. Amen.