YOU give them something to eat

Mar 9, 2016   //   by Jackie Matyasovski   //   Pastor's Blog, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done.  Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him.  He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and guy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”  The disciples did so, and everybody sat down.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them.  Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

 

Luke 9:10-17

 

Have you ever been hungry?  Have you ever been detained at work or a meeting and your stomach started protesting?  I know I have, and I’m willing to bet you have, too.  That’s where we find the people in our reading today—they’ve traveled to an out-of-town meeting and it ran longer than anticipated.  It’s growing late; they’re getting tired and their tummies are growling.

This is not a new story for most of us; in fact, this is one of the most well-known of Jesus’ miracles—the feeding of the 5,000.  There are many people who have never read a Bible or set foot in a church who know this story.  More often than not, when this scripture reading comes up on a Sunday, the sermon focuses on the miracle of feeding so many people with so little food—just five loaves of bread and two fish—but today I’d like to focus on Jesus’ response when the Disciples urge him to send the people off to find their own food and lodging for the evening.  Rather than saying, “Yea, you’re right.  It’s getting late.  Tell everyone to head on out and go home or head into town for the night.  Dinner and lodging is not included in this conference—I’m not responsible for their well-being any longer,” he tells them “You feed them.”

I have to think the Disciples felt a little panicked at this—“Uh, no one told us we would have to feed this group!  We don’t have enough food here, and we certainly don’t have the money to go into town and buy the food.  How would you have us feed so many people?”

It’s not very different for us today, is it?  There are hungry among us everywhere, and I’m not just talking about people for whom dinner is late tonight—I’m talking about people who haven’t eaten in days; people who truly know what it means to be hungry.  Do we tell them to go into town and find their own dinner, which may mean picking through the garbage dumpster behind the local McDonald’s, or do we feed them ourselves?

And what about those who are spiritually hungry?  Those who do not know the story of Jesus and how he loved them so much that he willingly died for them.  Those who know the story, but don’t think that they are worthy of such a gift.  Those who have heard the story but have rejected it and are searching elsewhere for meaning to their lives.  How do we treat those hungry souls?  Do we send them away and tell them they’re on their own, or do we open ourselves up to them and help them to see that Jesus cares about their spiritual needs as well as their physical ones?

For Jesus, it is impossible to minister effectively to one type of need without considering the other, and through this miracle—this feeding of the five thousand—he sets an example for us.  We are responsible for fulfilling each other’s physical and spiritual needs, just as Jesus did.  In this story, he first ministers to their spiritual needs by welcoming them and speaking to them about the kingdom of God.  He then meets their physical needs by healing those who were in need of healing, and feeding their bodies when the hour grew late.

It is our job as “little Christs”, to seek out the physically, as well as the spiritually hungry, and to feed their bodies and their spirits.  During this season of Lent, consider not only your own hungers, but the physical and spiritual hunger of those around you, then share your wealth—both physical and spiritual—with them.

 

Jackie Matyasovski

Deacon

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