In Matthew’s gospel he tells us that Jesus just wanted to get away to a quiet, out-of-the-way place. As Matthew tells the story Jesus had learned a short time ago that his cousin John the Baptizer had been beheaded by Herod.
So, not only was he worn out by teaching the masses and his disciples, healing their ills, and casting out their demons but now he heard that his predecessor had been killed. In the same circumstances wouldn’t you want to go somewhere to be alone with God and your grief?
But someone was watching which way he went and told the crowd. When he was nearing the other shore there they were waiting for him. Jesus didn’t react as we would. Instead of saying, “Oh no!” he had compassion for those who were coming to him for healing and help.
Immediately, just like a triage team in an emergency room dealing with multiple trauma cases after a terrible accident, Jesus set to work healing them.
After working all day everyone was tired, Jesus and those who were traveling with him. The disciples were ready to call it a day and asked Jesus to send them away so they could find food and shelter for the night.
Instead Jesus says, “You give them supper.” Can’t you just see their faces? “What are you talking about? We don’t have enough in the treasury to buy supplies to feed this crowd. Look at how many there are!”
Did they really think that Jesus was going to take no for an answer? They still hadn’t learned what kind of power he had at his disposal. Matthew doesn’t put this in his story but Mark does; Jesus asks them, “How much do you have?”
Their reply was that they only had 5 loaves and 2 fish. And Jesus said, “Let me see it.” Then just like an orchestra conductor he got everyone’s attention and asked them all to find a place to sit.
Friends, can you picture this? He didn’t have any loudspeakers, he wasn’t able to send a Tweet or a text. So, how was he able to get them all to understand what he wanted? Well, after all he was God and he could do anything. But, I still wonder how he did it.
Jesus didn’t back down from what he had asked them to do. He asked the disciples to bring him the bread and the fish. He lifted it up, asked for God’s blessing, broke the bread and the fish and gave it to his disciples to distribute to all who were seated on the hills of grass.
Now, here’s where folks like to try to figure out how it was possible to feed 5,000 men and who knows how many women and children with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. I’d kind of like to know too but is that really the important part of this lesson? I don’t think so.
I think, and this is just my opinion, that the lesson to be taken from this is that God asks us, the Church, to give them supper. And we are saying, “Let’s send them home, back to where they came. Let’s get the government to take care of them.”
What’s God’s answer? “What do you have? Let me see.” And, if we trust in Him, if we give our meager offerings to Him for His blessing, then the 5,000 can be tended to.
Friends, Jesus doesn’t ask the question today that he asked last week but I will. Do we understand what he’s saying? Do we get it?
Most times when someone asks if the Church can help the answer is, “We don’t have enough money. We don’t have anybody to work. We’re too old.”
Can we hear God’s reply? “What do you have? Let me see it. Give it to me.” What kind of faith do we have if we don’t believe that we are able to do anything?
Jesus is still speaking to us, “You give them…supper, clothes, housing, justice, forgiveness.” As small as our resources are with God’s blessing they are able to do more than we can imagine.
That, my friends, is what I believe is the good news for us today. God’s kingdom is here and we are being asked to ‘give them supper.’
If we believe, then our next step is to trust in God and let him lead us to those he would have us serve. Who is Jesus asking us to feed today? Who has Jesus invited to sit down so we can feed them? Who are we to ‘give supper’ to?
We aren’t just God’s church that comes together to worship, join in fellowship, be filled with God’s grace, and then go to our homes until we gather again next week. No, I hear God calling us to ‘give them supper.’
What do you hear God saying today? How is he speaking to your heart and soul? Friends, God is calling us to service.
God loves each and every one of us. He forgives us when we fail. He prays for us when we don’t know what to say. And with the might of his right arm he lifts us up to serve and give help to those in need. Thanks be to God. Amen.