Proper 13 (31 July—6 Aug)Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still you provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Lord’s Gracious Invitation to the hungry - Matthew 14:13-21
Jesus feeds 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. More than any other episode, the feeding of 5,000 is related six times. Apparently, this fact points to the importance with which the apostolic church held it. The account shows us Jesus’ power over nature, and his use of the disciples in feeding the multitude. Several items are noteworthy: Jesus’ compassion for the needy, his power to make so much of so little, the partnership of the disciples, and the oversupply of food.
The miracle of feeding 5,000 with five loaves is a vehicle that carries several important truths. If we see only a miracle, we miss the point. Apparently this episode was very important to the apostolic church because all four Gospels give an account of this miracle. People need to learn the lessons of this lesson. Permanent values in this miracle —
1. Christ is able to feed us — Vv. 19-20.
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 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 and Christ can do great things. This reminds us also that a common meal in the home or out in a field can be a sacramental act of love when the bread is blessed and shared.
2. Christ is willing to feed us (compassion) — v. 14.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick
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. 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 willing to help. Contrast this with many contemporary instances when people in trouble are ignored when they cry for help.
3. Christ uses human instruments — Vv. 16-19.
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.
The people needed physical food. They were plain hungry. Jesus tells the disciples to give the people something to eat. In a world where one-third of the people suffer malnutrition, Jesus has a message to those able to share their food. Jesus is concerned about the physical welfare of people as well as with their souls. There is no dodging this issue by spiritualizing this account to say it refers to the Lord’s Supper, or to Jesus as the second Moses, or to an eschatological banquet. It is to be taken as a concrete, factual situation of real physical hunger which Christians have a responsibility to alleviate.
4. Christ provides abundantly — v. 20.
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
The people were satisfied with the quality and the quantity of food. They were filled with food. In fact, they could not eat it all — twelve baskets were filled with leftovers. Here we see the generosity and abundance of God’s provision of our needs. God gives us more than we ask for, more than we need. God does exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use.
Artwork by Ed Rojas © Higher Things© Higher Things