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Matthew 14:13-21                                                 


Irony -Matthew juxtaposes two kings and two kingdoms in this section. We have King Herod who presides over a raucous banquet ending in the execution of John, and then we have "King" Jesus who provides a meal for his subjects. Chronology aside, in Matthew’s arrangement, Jesus’ withdrawal is designed to coincide directly with the announcement of John’s death. [1]

Pastoral Ministry - Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is another example of compassion. In this story of the loaves and fish, Jesus’ compassion comes across as an act of human response to a group of people who have among them sick ones in need of care.[2]  Eucharistic and eschatological overtones are heard in the passage as we now at the Table and in the sacrament of the common life seek to obey Jesus: "you give them something to eat."

Pastor-Centered To Ministry-Centered

Note how Jesus moves the disciples from followers to leaders . . . he doesn’t say, "I will feed them," but "you give them something to eat." Mark adds, "they did not understand the saying, for their heart was hardened." For they were continuing to crawl like babies. [3]

What do you do when you hear tragic news?

How would you differentiate between solitude and isolation?

Step into the disciples’ shoes: how would you have felt if Jesus had asked you to feed a small town?

Recall a moment / story / example of how God s - t - r - e - t - c - h - e - d your resources beyond what you could have imagined.

You may want to begin with summer homecomings and picnics as a well to enter the text

Raise the question and suggest plausible reasons why Jesus sought solitude-because of John the Baptist’s execution? Needed to sort things out? To avoid the publicity that might lead to his arrest and execution? Exhaustion?

Recall moments in your own life when you sought solitude

You may want to distinguish between silence / isolation / and solitude.

Jesus reclaims his Good News mission, but the disciples are not nearly as resourceful or insightful.

How does this scene of Jesus commanding the disciples to feed the people reflect our own congregation’s attempt to obey Jesus’ command?

[1] New Interpreter’s Bible VIII (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), page 325.
[2] Paul Achtemeier, Interpretation Series: Romans (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985), page 153-4.
[3] John Chrysostom (fl 386-407) in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Ib (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), page 7.