Friday, August 8, 2014

Proper 13

Proper 13
3 August 2014
Matthew 14:13-21
The feeding of the 5,000

“Almighty God, grant us a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, a cheerful hope in Your mercy, and a sincere love for You and one another.”…Pour out upon us, O Lord, the Spirit to think and do what is right, that we, who cannot even exist without you, may have the strength to live according to your will.”

God our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ His Son, provides food for our bodies. Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. We usually address the miracles of Jesus in this manner - Someone’s in trouble. Jesus helps. Everyone’s happy! End of story.  But, if you see only one miracle, you miss the point. This miracle is so important that ALL four gospels record it. Today, we will look at this miracle from Matthew’s perspective.

Only Matthew gives us the context of this miracle. And it’s huge! This miracle is linked to the death of John the Baptizer. Herod had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter… John’s disciples, came, took away the body and buried it. And they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. Vv.12-13

Jesus is in mourning. For John. And for Himself. He knows what’s coming. He will be the next to die. And it will be a violent death. Just like John. He departs to pray. Only Matthew says that Jesus goes by Himself. To a desert place. Yet He will turn this desert into a paradise! Whether Jesus finds Himself, be it in an isolated space or whether the crowds surround him, the cross always looms over Him. He can’t escape it.  It’s always there. You can never separate Jesus from the cross.   

And Jesus’ disciples? They’re heartless as ever. When little children were brought to Jesus, that He should put His hands on them. The disciples rebuked them.[1] When they see the crowd, they say to Jesus, literally, "destroy" the crowd, “that they might find daily bread for themselves.”v.15 They are weary. Tired. Annoyed. It had been a very long day. The last thing they wanted to do was provide a meal for these unwashed masses, which had been coming to them. Again!   

–CS Lewis reminds us, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”[2] Here is the heartbeat of the miracle. It is a greater factor than the power to bring food for 5,000 out of five loaves of bread.  Because of His love for the hurting and the hungry. Jesus is moved to help and heal.

Today we consider the permanent values in this miracle -

1.       Christ is able to feed us. Vv.19-20 -19  he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied

Notice what Jesus does not do. He doesn’t snap His finger to produce food. Rather He works through means. He takes what is given Him. He took the five loaves and the two fish. He looks to heaven. And said a blessing.  He breaks the loaves.  Gave them to the disciples. And the disciples gave them to the crowds.

Jesus looked up to His Father in heaven. Who is the Father of mercies.  From whom every mercy and blessing of life comes. He gave thanks to Him for the same.

Whatever our Lord blesses, it achieves the purpose for which He gave it. When our Lord blesses the food on your tables, it does its job. It feeds and nourishes your body that you may worship God and serve your neighbor.

Our Lord blessed the bread. And it fed them all. Even though there was so little. Our Lord blesses the gifts He has placed on your table.  And those gifts feed us. Having received our Lord’s gift of food, we return to the activities of life nourished and prepared to serve those around us.
We’ve each been taught to pray – “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let Thy gifts to us be blessed.”

“Come, Lord Jesus,” We cry with the Church. Longing for our Lord to return in glory and set us and this entire sinful world right.

Be our guest,” We ask Him. Knowing that the house that receives Jesus in faith receives His salvation.

Let Thy gifts to us be blessed,” We pray.  Trusting that the food on our tables will be sufficient to nourish us to do the work the Lord has given us in this world.

It is such a simple prayer. And yet, it gives voice to so many longings that our faith produces in us. We long for Jesus to come again. We long for the salvation He brings. We long to be nourished to do the work He gives us.[3]

2.       Christ is willing to feed us because of His great compassion. V. 14 - 14 When he went ashore he  he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 

His guts were churning. His stomach ached. His heart was broken over them. An emotion not given to humans.  He recognized them "As sheep w/o a shepherd". (According to Mark) He is attending to their physical needs.

The people are not in a position to help themselves. It is at the end of the day. They are far from civilization. They are out of supplies.  To get food at that time, and in that place, demanded a miracle. This account teaches that Jesus is not only able but also willing to help.

Contrast this with many contemporary occasions when people in trouble are ignored when they cry for help. Judas, when he came to his senses was seized with guilt and remorse. He returned the thirty coins.
He made a confession, “I am guilty of this man’s blood.” He wanted to amend his ways. He needed absolution. He wanted to settle his accounts and make all things right.  And what was the response from the religious elite? “What does this have to do with us? This is your responsibility!” He died in despair. Because he could not fix what he had broken. The Law always accuses. It always condemns.  It never gives restoration. When there is no gospel there is only destruction.

The power of the miracle is Christ. The 5,000 are fed with five loaves. He asks that the loaves and fish be brought to Him. He takes the food, gives thanks and breaks the bread until all are fed. The tremendous truth in this act is that man is little… but Christ can do great things.

3.       Christ uses human instruments Vv.16-19 - 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds

Jesus reminds us, "they need not go awayyou give them something to eat.”[4] Not only is a miracle about to take place. The disciples will witness it. Better yet, they will participate.  "We have not here except 5 breads and 2 fish.” They reply.  "All we have is this!"

Jesus makes the common things holy. In His Holy Common Bread/Wine, are offered.  We receive His Body/Blood. The impoverished widow, who had only a few pennies, gave more into the treasury than all the rest.  Jesus noticed. He saw her. The very person whom she had prayed would help her! The God of heaven was in His holy temple.  Just as she had prayed, He would be.  And He saw her. There in His house! Likewise! He knows of your circumstance. He understands your situation. You are never asked to go it alone. Never! He must sustain you. This is His nature.  

He commands His disciples, "bring them here to Me." He will use this gift for His purposes. No matter how meager. No matter how small. He will use you, your gifts, and your talents for holy purposes. So continue. Continue to be used of Him. Continue to share Christ and Him crucified. The Faith is taught.  It is also caught. Share Christ with all you know. Gossip the Gospel. Live your life as a redeemed child of God. For this is who you truly are.   

4.       Christ provides abundantly. V 20 - And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.  

When Jesus commands the crowd, He is saying to them, "assume the position for a feast,” which, of course, is completely out of place. Five loaves and a few fish could barely be a meal for one. How could so many be fed? Remember Christ’s action! He blessed it and broke it. When Christ blesses something it is always given and received in abundance. At His first miracle, six stone water jars, containing twenty to thirty gallons each, are turned into wine. That’s 120-180 gallons! The first and last command given by God to man was "come and eat." In Geneses, we read, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” –Genesis 2:16
And in Revelation, we read, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. –Revelation 22:14

Unique also to Matthew’s gospel is verse 21. – 5,000 are fed. Not including women and infants. What’s the seating capacity of Mackey Arena in West Lafayette? 14,240! That’s close to the assembled crowd on that day. With meager means, the many are fed. They are fed in abundance. When Jesus acts on behalf of His children, He will always provide abundantly. They ate and were satisfied!    

Words – 1,785
Passive Sentences –10%
Reading Ease – 85%
Reading Level – 3.6

[1] Matthew 19:13
[3] Come Lord Jesus, by David Loy, Lutheran Witness June/July © 2011 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[4] A phrase unique to Matthew.

No comments: