November 22, 2015
St. Timothy’s UMC
Rev. Mark M. Norman Vickers
Matthew 14:13-20 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 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. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 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.” 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 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. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Well, maybe we will get them fed since it is Thanksgiving week! Four weeks of this story and we are still attempting to feed the five thousand that gathered to see Jesus the Master. We have heard this story for four weeks. I don’t know about you folks but I’m a bit tired of this text. I’m a bit tired of this text because it drives into my mind and my heart that Jesus is continually correct. Now, maybe to say that I’m “tired of it” may not be the right words but what it does to me is drive home the story that Jesus is capable of feeding our lives, feeding our souls, and feeding our hearts with the utmost of compassion and with such importance that it is so important that all four of our Gospel writers feel compelled to tell us about this great miracle story. If we take this story as something extremely relevant in the Christian faith, then we take it as an abundant miracle that speaks volumes to us about a number of areas of Christian living and Christian giving. So, how does this story speak to us?
First, it speaks to us that God is capable of anything! Even feeding 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. How it is done is where the miracle takes place. In all four of the Gospel stories we never really get the “down and dirty” of how the bread and the fish were multiplied; we just hear that they were! The end result was what really mattered, not necessarily the details that make up the actual feeding of the people. Sure we can spend countless hours and days and years arguing about how the actual act occurred but the real end result that we are concerned about is that the 5,000 are fed! Those in need had their need met—and in a miraculous way! How many of us have our needs met in a miraculous way?
Second, it speaks to us that God is continually working in our lives in ways that seem far more obvious than we are willing to admit. The 5,000 had gathered to follow the Master but we never hear from any of the 5,000 that they were hungry. Interesting, isn’t it, that it is presumed they would be hungry? God through Jesus, the little boy, and the disciples acts without the question even being asked, “Are you hungry?” Thus another part of this miracle story implies that we presume to know what God intends! The disciples were all about feeding those who gathered and assuming they would be there for an extended period of time the disciples went into action. Thus God through Jesus works through us even when we are not willing to admit that there might be something that needs to be done, on our behalf and by us. We need to understand that God used real people in this story to help feed the 5,000. Might just God use us to feed those in need around us in a miraculous way? May God use us to meet the abundant need of those in need.
Third, God doesn’t do anything small! In all of our Gospel accounts prior to the Feeding of the 5,000, Jesus had been traveling around Galilee healing, teaching, and doing miracles, finally building up to this grand miracle of feeding the 5,000! God through Christ does not do anything on a small scale, everything is done in a progressively larger fashion. He builds to the ultimate story of the resurrection throughout His life. God through Jesus Christ takes us along for the journey. Christ engages us, embodies us, but most of all travels with us through out the journey.
Over the past four weeks we have journeyed with one miracle story in the forefront of our being. The feeding of the five thousand is about the abundant ability of God to change the lives of people. Not just 5,000 around the Sea of Galilee, but all people in the world. Throughout this miracle story over the past four weeks we have observed the need to serve and offer to those around us the vision to see great things. We have taken a serious look at the impact we have made in the world through our giving and our service. Then we looked at what it meant to be people of grace by being active in the community of Christ, and today we focus on how big this whole event of giving and service is to all of us in the community of faith and to the Kingdom of God.
As we have read this same story over and over again this month we have built up to understanding how large and grand the story really is. We have come to understand that this is a Kingdom of abundance, not only in terms of wealth and material items but abundant in the opportunity to give and to serve a God who loves us and cares for us in such an abundant way.
With today being Commitment Sunday, we come with anticipation and hope to be an abundant church in the Kingdom of God! We come having read that God is an abundant God who continues to give to us everyday in small and big ways and we in turn are motivated by our love for God to return a portion of what we have been given. You know how abundant God has been in your life. I can only presume that as part of this community of faith, God has lived up to God’s part of the plan and continued to give to you in an abundant fashion.
As people of faith we are moved to give back to God in ways we understand. I cannot presume to know how you are to give but I can presume that as a member of the body of Christ that you will commit to give to the God who loves you, cares for you, and will never leave you! Commitment is taken seriously in the Bible, we saw this month the ultimate commitment of God, the ultimate commitment of the disciples, and now we must put into motion the ultimate commitment of ourselves in the life of the Kingdom. I pray that you take your commitment seriously and see it as a step to the furtherment of the Kingdom.
Keeping in mind that our financial commitment is only part of our Kingdom commitment and that our service commitment goes hand in hand with our financial commitment. Therefore, I pray that you contemplate how you will serve St. Timothy’s this year not only with your money but with your talents.