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Scripture Text (NRSV)


Matthew 14:13-21

 

14:13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

14:14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

14:15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."

14:16 Jesus said to them, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."

14:17 They replied, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish."

14:18 And he said, "Bring them here to me."

14:19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

14:20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.

14:21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 

Comments:

Hi all,

The United Church of Christ offers as an emphasis to this week's New Testament's lectionary: "And they ate and all were filled." My own sermon topic is, "Give Them Something to Eat."

In a world with such a contrast between the haves and the have nots, it seems to me that we should be sharing our wealth with those who dwell in poverty. In our sharing, we shall find that there is still plenty for us and them too. Feeding the hungry, therefore, should not only provide for the moment, but erase hunger for ever.

Just a few thoughts. Any comments to help me on my way would be appreciated.

HJ in CA


At our pastor's school this past January, one of our leaders used this story of the 5 loaves and two fishes. He re-told the story along these lines -- the disciples checked for food that could be shared with the crowd. One disciple found the lad with the 5 loaves and 2 fish. He counted it carefully -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 loaves; 1, 2 fish. That's not enough -- but maybe I am counting it wrong. And yet, Jesus told them to give them something to eat. He called over one of the other disciples, and they counted it together -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 loaves; 1, 2 fish. That's not enough. And yet Jesus told them to give them something to eat. Maybe we are not counting it right, so they got 2 more disciples to count it with them. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 loaves; 1, 2 fish. That's not enough. And yet Jesus told them to give the people something to eat. So they gathered all the disciples together to count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 loaves; 1, 2 fish. That's not enough to feed a crowd of over 5000. And yet Jesus told them to give the crowd something to eat. So they went to Jesus, told him that they had 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 loaves; 1, 2 fish -- but maybe they were counting it wrong. Jesus said that they were counting it wrong. So he took the bread and fish and started to count -- you've got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 loaves; 1, 2 fish; and you've got me!

How many times do we forget to count on Jesus! Instead, we count only on what we can put our hands on, only on what we can verify and control. When we count like that, we will never have enough for the world hungry for good news. And yet, if we count on Jesus, all will eat and be filled!

Another note: The musical "Lazarus" has a wonderful song based on the 5 loaves and 2 fishes called, "I Saw The People Gathered."

OLAS


As to your question, Michelle's final comment is probably the most accurate, however, I'll give my personal spin on it. John, as the last gospel writer, spoke in large part of things the synoptic writers did not - he didn't repeat them, but told things they did not tell. This may simply be a recolletion of John's that didn't come through the others.

However, I feel Michelle is correct... we don't know.

Peace, JG in WI


I don't know about you, but if Jesus had given me a small loaf of bread and told me to stand in front of a crowd of thousands to feed them with it, I would have thought "Right." I would have felt ridiculous. I think a big part of this miracle is that they took a step in faith, doing something that made absolutely no sense at all because Jesus told them to do it. They had to conquer their fear of embarrassment in order to participate in the blessing. O my, O my......Blessings to you all - Preacher Pat


Dear folks of the word: thots I hope that we don't make the disciples participants in making this miracle, just participants in passing out the bounty. Also beware in connecting it to the Eucharist...water to wine, I can buy, but fish to wine? that is really a stretch...keep the comparisons to the Great Banquet maybe?!

Oh, yes, Bounty, that is the common thread in all of our texts this week...not so much the abundance of the bread and fish (or bread and milk or wrestling)...but that nothing was over 'til all were satisfied. That there were leftovers means that the supply was more than enough to meet the needs.

If we have 1-2-3-4-5 loaves and 1-2 fish and Jesus..."now we have 12 baskets and Jesus; that may mean that even the scraps from Jesus' ministry can fill the 12 apostles/12 tribes of Israel." (this last bit paraphrased from the "Expositor's Commentary") revdjenk in Erie


What I have always liked about this story is the hidden little nugget in v. 19. This story is usually referred to as "Jesus feeding the five thousand" but, in fact, it is the disciples who feed the crowd. V. 19 says Jesus "blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples," and then it was "the disciples [who] gave them to the crowds." This is a story about the empowerment of Jesus' followers to do the work of meeting needs, not simply a story about Jesus doing one more "magical" thing.

Blessings, Eric in KS


I only have..... We behave this way a lot. We only have so much to give.... time, money, energy, talents and often patience. Most of the people in this story felt they had nothing. One person only had a little. Actually, it was plenty, for him. It was only deemed 'a little' by the disciples as they searched for something to feed the masses.

I cleaned out my refrigerator the other day. Part of the process was pulling out leftovers that had found their way into the back crevices of the refrig. What I pulled out had once been delectable morsels much too tasty to toss out. But now it was, well, disgusting. I won’t be anymore graphic than that. I'm sure you've experienced the same. So, what about what we possess, that once was good enough to share. Do we share or put it away for another time only to find it much much later changed into something not fit for anything....

Not sure where I'm going to take this... but perhaps ya'll can "chew" on it awhile. :) mitcavis


mitcavis,

You really want us to chew on those disgusting leftovers?

LOL! Michelle

Seriously, good food for thought!


'Twas writtin: "Part of the process was pulling out leftovers that had found their way into the back crevices of the refrig. What I pulled out had once been delectable morsels much too tasty to toss out. But now it was, well, disgusting."

Mitcavis! You didn't leave them long enough. A learned article in a 1973 issue of The Journal of Irreproducible Results proved that, if left, long enough, the leftovers that migrate to the back of the refrigerator will transmigrate to your closet, turning into those extra paper-covered wire hangers that seem to come from nowhere and collect in the closet by the hundreds. (The only seem to come from nowhere because, as you see, they are actually spiritually evolved leftovers.)

Blessings, Eric in KS


Wow! Here it is only Monday, and I'm already preparing next Sunday's sermon -- what a rarity for me; usually it's late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

Preacher Pat, I'm right with you on the 'leap of faith' idea. Yesterday, we had (in our monthly series) a session on 'the power of prayer' and it was one of the things I talked about -- how we fear to ask for what we might term 'improbable' because we fear the consequences of not receiving it. Instead we ask for what we believe can fall into the range of the 'do-able' even though we believe all things are do-able for God.

I, too, am guilty of that. On September 1, I turn 50 and five days later I will be married (for the first time; her first as well). She currently lives in Scotland, and we need to await a visa so she can return with me after the wedding. It might take up to six months! I have given it up to the Lord to smooth the paperwork paths and allow the visa to be ready in time. I was hesitant to ask Him, as I feared the consequences if it wasn't ready. How would I feel? react? If I'm to have credibility as a preacher, I need to be able to lift such things to the Lord and not be concerned; just expectant. Not an easy task!! Out of this personal incident, I can relate to the disciples being told to feed the 5,000 with just five loaves and two fish. Instead of trusting, I'd be expecting major embarrassment as soon as we ran out of food!

Thanks for the seeds so many of you have offered over the past many months. I tend to be a late-comer at the very end of the week, so I've not had many opportunities to share my thoughts. God has blessed me with the ability to get up and preach, with no notes or script, and will even show me what to say as I go along -- now there's a 'leap of faith'!! and yet when it comes to asking for some things in prayer or trusting God to provide, I hesitate. Sometimes I wonder what it takes for us to allow the mustard seed to grow inside us.

Blessings to all, Don in Ontario, Canada


Preacher Pat, I like your take on it! Mitcavis, I know those leftovers personally! Like the illustration and idea. Might I combine the leap of faith with the leftovers somehow? Food for thought. Is it a leap of faith to share what "seemingly little" we have while it's still good? Stewardship possibilties abound. REVJAW


I like Jesus' answer to the disciples when they want him to send the crowd away to find food

Jesus say "YOU give them something to eat."

I think he's still waiting for the church to get that right.

Pr.Del in Ia


Reams of junk mail mixed in with the bills and clergy communications today. Still fairly new at this, I can't get over how much mail a pastor gets! Still not sure where to put it all.

An envelope from United Methodist Communications stands out among it all. A churchwide appeal for Southern Africa famine relief. I hear Jesus say, "YOU give them something to eat." I say, "Yes, Lord, but You know how they get with too many special offerings. Grumble, grumble, grumble."

How to lovingly compare those grumbles to Jacob's wrestling so hearts will want to give them something to eat? A task too large for me, but not for God.

Thank you all for your thoughts week after week!

pastorkat PA


Jesus is in grief. He has just heard that his cousin John has been beheaded, and all he wants to do is be alone for a while.

And yet still they come. Wanting healing and feeding. Never satisfied. A constant stream of people seeking help.

Any clergy will tell you, that the demands of ministry never end. And yet so often parishioners or those who come seeking our assistance, have little, if any idea, of what limited resources we use to try to satisfy them. We are limited and inadequate human beings, and yet we are expected to satisfy the demands of a suffering world.

The disciple's answer to the problem is so similar to many of my parishioners response to difficult situations. Send them away, let them fend for themselves. Why should we be responsible?

Human beings, myself included, are loath to take on the awesome responsibility of compassion, and yet Jesus in his worst time possible, indicates to the disciples that they do have a responsibility. There is an element of frustration and pleading in the statement, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."

I am tired of so many of my people not even attempting to live out their Christian claim of compassion and love. I am tired of their reluctance to tackle the large issues, preferring instead to dance around the edges with petty issues.

I guess I am tired of them thinking that because I am a priest, that I have any special advantage over them. I am no more than a single human being, but I know that even with the inadequate resources of my own existence, God has been able to use me. I don't claim any super powers, just a simple willingness to have a go.

This is what Jesus was looking for.

I wonder what Jesus (yes that's right, Jesus) learnt from this occasion?

"Unless a single grain fall into the earth and die, it remains just a single grain." Multiplication is the secret to satisfying the world.

Go and make disciples. Hmmm!

Some preliminary thoughts on a very powerful gospel. Have a good week everyone.

Regards, KGB


Mitcavis,

thanks for the illustration with the reefer. Know that crevice personally. I am an interim in a church which is stuck in the crevice. They are truly blessed with a fantastic complex but they are extremely picky and pricey when it comes to sharing it, therefore it sits empty...a tasty morsel saved for another time. Meanwhile people are leaving over the collective stinginess and narrowmindedness and we there we have the crevice. Thanks, this is bible school week (they do use it once and a while) and your words are welcomed food. KS in PA


In Matthew's reading we see the disciples offering Jesus the most obvious solution to a problem. "They're hungry. Send them away."

How often do we do that?

When we are praying, do we inform God of the problems and tell him how to "fix" the situation?

It's not hard to imagine his sitting there saying, "You be part of the solution "(You give them something to eat) even when we don't think we have the resources or the abilities to be a part of the solution.

GC in IL


Hi, Friends...

I have an experience to share with you that you may be able to use as a sermon illustration. I think it fits beautifully with Jesus making use of what we have and mutiplying it many times over.

Here goes...Several years ago I served a small rural church in North Central Kansas, and like all ...or most churches, we have our traditional summer vacation bible school. This particular year we decided to send our VBS money to the Heffer Project Internationl. We collected enough money to buy some baby chicks for food for somebody hunger. After we sent our money in, I thought it was all over...mission accomplished.

I didn't think much about it, until one cold snowy January day, I received the nicest letter from Heffer Project International, thanking our Church for the VBS donation which was added to some other money to buy a WATER BUFFALOE for a family in Southeastern Asia!!! The letter went on to explain how the water buffaloe would be used to help plow the fields for crops for several years, and when it became to old to do that, it would be butchered for food for some family.

From a few baby chicks to a Water Buffaloe... Christ made a real multiplying of food there!!! Hope you can use it in some way. Have a Spirit Filled Sunday!!!! Jim, Kansas


KS in PA saidn, "thanks for the illustration with the reefer."

THE WHAT????

I certainly hope it was only for medicinal purposes!

Blessings, Eric in KS


What if my church heard Jesus say, "YOU give them something to eat"? What would people say?

We don't have enough! I don't know how to pray in public. I can't find the book of Hebrews in the Bible! I could't find the Lord's Prayer in the Gospels! I'm not trained in pastoral care.

But, I can hold someone's hand. I can play the harmonica for someone who's in a coma. I can volunteer occasionally in the local food bank. I can write a letter to the editor about domestic violence. When we start sharing the little we do have, God empowers it to multiply. MTSOfan


I see that the math folk are focused on counting. Donovan over at Sermon Writer is on that trail. I am getting a vision of a Martha Stewart program, "How to Feed Five Thousand". May even compare the Jesus Way to the Herod Way earlier in the chapter. Let me give you counters an illustration. When I was in college in Mississippi we had a hypnotist come to campus to do a program. He had hypnotized students to do foolish things on stage. One delightful girl was told that she would be unable to remember the number 7. When asked to count to ten she would skip the number seven. Told to use her fingers, she was confused but still insistent that she knew how to count. I remember a line like "Why, Miss Minnie Lee Ledbetter (Jerry Clower country) at Liberty Elementary School taught me to count to ten just like this, 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10. So there!" What evil dellusionist causes disciples to count out Jesus? Feed me folks. jrbnrnc


KS in PA

Only a truly D.P. could turn a refrig into a reefer!! It's not even Saturday night. :)

As for myself.... Eric has changed the entire way I now look into my closet.

good evening! mitcavis


jrbnrnc said "I am getting a vision of a Martha Stewart program, 'How to Feed Five Thousand'."

Don Imus of radio fame used to do a comedy routine about "Billy Sol Harkus of Del Rio, Texas" who had a "Holy Land Amusement Park" -- one of the items you could buy there was the "Holy Land Cook Book" in which there was a recipe for taking two Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks and five loaves of Levi's Jewish Rye Bread to "feed those 5,000 unexpected drop in guests."

Blessings, Eric in KS


Thank all for sharing your bread and fish this week. Jesus took the fish and bread and he lifted it up before the Father and blessed it. Then he broke the bread and gave it to his disciples and they gave it to the crowd. Henri Nowen writes about being "Chosen, Blessed, Broken, and Given"

I am considering using this text for communion. Jesus was chosen by God to be the savior of the world. He was blessed by God in all his deeds and actions. He was broken at Calvary for you and for me, and he was given out of love in order that we might be reconciled to God.

You and I are also chosen by God. God blesses us daily. We too are broken by grief, hurt, pain, and suffering, but we are broken in order that God might give us to a hurting world for its healing. So it is with the people in our congregations. They are chosen, blessed, broken, people that God wants to give to the world for its healing.

As often as we eat bread and drink from the cup let us do so in rememberance of the one who was chosen, blessed, broken, and given for the sins of the world. May it even be so of us.


Thank all for sharing your bread and fish this week. Jesus took the fish and bread and he lifted it up before the Father and blessed it. Then he broke the bread and gave it to his disciples and they gave it to the crowd. Henri Nowen writes about being "Chosen, Blessed, Broken, and Given"

I am considering using this text for communion. Jesus was chosen by God to be the savior of the world. He was blessed by God in all his deeds and actions. He was broken at Calvary for you and for me, and he was given out of love in order that we might be reconciled to God.

You and I are also chosen by God. God blesses us daily. We too are broken by grief, hurt, pain, and suffering, but we are broken in order that God might give us to a hurting world for its healing. So it is with the people in our congregations. They are chosen, blessed, broken, people that God wants to give to the world for its healing.

As often as we eat bread and drink from the cup let us do so in rememberance of the one who was chosen, blessed, broken, and given for the sins of the world. May it even be so of us.


O.K. I am using this. I think it's neat that this is the passage now, when the 9 Minors in Pennsylvannia were rescued, and good! NO tramatic stress!!! Correlation to bring in they shared one sandwich and a can of soda. Nine people, one sandwich and one can of soda...and God kept them safe and they were not only rescued but fine! How many of us will use this in our sermons Sunday?? Boy, sometimes God makes it easy! We needed to hear that good news, encouragement- look at all the bad news-war. God has not gone away- He hears us, our prayers---He is compassionate now as then, he sends the Holy Spirit to care for us...He heals us, feeds us, clothes us... I think the title of my sermon will be Don't you think we could use a little Good news today... (O.K. who sings that country song?) Maybe play for the people...a girl sings it...something like well i read the morning paper today, nobody OD'ed nobody burned a single building down... and something about all the children in Ireland had to do is play!!! Healing Sermon This Sunday I think We could all use a little good news today


Hello Usually just read over all the wonderful comments but don't say anything - however... This past weekend I attended my 40th high school reunion. Was talking to a classmate about where our lives had taken us. He related the following story. He was running an environmental company. The hurricane in Honduras occurred. He said, "God put the idea in my head that I should do something so I emailed the bishop of Honduras,asking what I could do while thinking that takes care of that because I will never get an answer! The next morning there was not only an answer, it was a specific answer. "We need water." The classmate, George Greene met with some engineers and they devised a water purifying system that could be placed anywhere - even in places without electricity (can be gas run). Senator Strom Thurmond arranged for a transport plan to take the containers to Honduras (they made six of them). So within two weeks, thousands of people were able to have clean water. Then George said he began to feel uncomfortable in his old job. So that company ended and a non-profit was started with a 10year global mission to bring safe drinking water to 100million people. The web site is www.watermissions.org -- This ministry is viewed as bringing not only safe drinking water but God's "living water" to all who are hungering for life.

gigi in fla


Hi All. I have been a usually frequent reader but very infrequent contributor. Thanks for your work & words. I try to go with what I heard, but only see one or two that come close to what God seems to be strongly saying to me. This week's passage leaves me no room for nice words about what we can give, or how God can use us in ordinary ways (increasing volunteering or giving in a small way) or communion. It is about Jesus taking what the disciples KNEW wasn't enough and turning it into something that would meet people's needs in a miraculous way. When are we going to trust God to take us and do things far beyond what we "can" do? Don't let your fears or "common sense" prevent this from being a place where God begins to perform miracles in your people! - Joe Bell, Gastonia, NC


Pretty sure the country song you are thinking of is sung by Anne Murray, "A Little Good News" or something close to that. This will be my last Sunday in this parish. I have accepted a position as a hospital chaplain (actually a CPE residency). So the bread and fishes will be my last sermon. I will be using the idea of "Blessings Abound" speaking to both the Gospel lesson, and my seven years with this congregation. I'm praying hard for the composure to get through this day. We've had some troubles lately, but lots of good times, and I will dearly miss these people. However, my move is truly Spirit-led, and the blessings will continue to come, for me and for them. Katrinka


Hey all,

just surfed onto this site and enjoying the breadth of comments on this passage...what a fun bunch! Except Eric. He's a little twisted I think! :)

For what it's worth, I've often wondered what would happen if we abolished the Finance Committees and just used this passage as our model for stewardship. You know, gather whatever the people bring, consecrate it for no other purpose than building God's kingdom, and then DISTRIBUTE it right there on the spot. All of it.

After the parishoners pick there jaws up off the floor we say "now, God has blessed it, you go and give to them." Somewhere in the back of my mind I feel like preachers would still eat and mortgages would still be paid...but can you imagine what people would bring forth to God for blessing if they were building the Kingdom, and not some committee? Just a though.

Wilscalet in CA


Hi,

This Sunday is the Homecoming at the church and it is a big deal for the congregation. That influences the way I am approaching this message. I have been interested in the fact that the preceding several verses describes the execution of Jesus' first cousin, John. Mt. 14:12 John's disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. 13: When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by board privately to a solitary place...Then follows the feeding of the 5,000 men plus the women and children. It seems to me that this is basically what happens when there is a death. Family receives the word. Family goes off to grieve. Then bunches of people come to eat. It also seems to me that these three points (1-bad stuff, 2-hurting alone, 3-coming together with Jesus and others to eat and be comforted) could be a foundation for a communion sermon, for this homecoming sermon, or for dealing with life. Perhaps one summary of this could be, ďitís a tough world, so letís eat and party.Ē At homecoming, we think of those no longer with us, we re-establish friendships with those who come just for the event, and if we look, we can see the way Christ comes alive in relationships with those we love and eat with. I am interested in the ideas, observations of others.

In His name, Leon <><


Finally decided on my title for Sunday...

"Little is Much" from the song by Mary Rice Hopkins.

'Little is much when He lives in your heart. Little is much when you know who you are.

Hear these words that I speak. I have come for the children, I have come for you. Through My name, greater things you will do. Whether you are a baby brand new, or if you are a hundred and two."

mitcavis


Blessings All (And I think Eric is just fun, not completely twisted)

Been thinking along these lines- how we look around to see what the needs are (if we even do that much) and then we look around to see what the resources are and concentrate on how little we have, how small we are. Like the sailor's prayer that goes, "Oh, Lord, the sea is so great and I am so small" leaving out any reference to God who can do all things. The disciples looked around, but Jesus "looked up to heaven." With all our stewardship programs, still nothing is as effective as getting people looking in the right direction

Now, all I have to do is figure out how to do that!

RevGilmer in Texarkana


Leon,

Good idea, but remember that the people weren't coming to be present with Jesus to give him comfort in his time of grief.

Michelle


Wiscalet in CA, you come up with an idea like getting rid of finance committees and pledging and relying only on whatever happens to get dropped in the plate ... and you call ME twisted!!!! Sheesh!

I am a bit twisted this week ... I've been invited to consider a "hierarchical" position in another regional judicatory (what we 'Pisspalians call a "diocese") and I find the position quite intriguing ... but I promised my daughter we wouldn't leave here until she finishes high school next May. So I'm trying to figure out how to do both if it comes to that and that is "twisting" me a bit...

Blessings, Eric in KS

PS - I went to grade school, jr. high, college, graduate school, and seminary in CA (I escaped during high school) -- no wonder I'm twisted!


Jesus said "You give them something to eat." Jesus apparently understood the the ability of the disciples to feed these people in the same way that he was able. We usually don't have nearly as much faith in ourselves and each other as believers who are filled with the Spirit of Christ....as Christ has faith in us..... We are perfectly capable because of Him but we have little faith much of the time.....Christ keeps bailing us out....Can we ever grasp...take hold of the authority he have given to us as his children? ABPA


Mitcavis and all,

Around my house, we refer to the cleaning out the old leftovers from the fridge as playing Star Trek: you know, seeking out new life forms and boldly going where no man has gone before. Isn't that sort of what Jesus told the disciples to do? Discover a new form of life by living by faith in what God can do beyond what they can do. Going boldly into the places where they had always been afraid to go and doing things that they never thought they could do. Trekkin' on with Him!

Mike from Soddy Daisy, TN


I certainly don't want to count Jesus out of the equation in this miracle. But that is the point. It is Jesus's involvement that enables the disciples to achieve their potential.

If Jesus/God had wanted, there would be no need for the Church. If we believe that God has the power to supply all the world's needs in an instant (and I would believe that)then the episode of the feeding of the five thousand is irrelevant in the scheme of things. He feeds billions of people everyday. It is what Jesus enabled the disciples to achieve that is the miracle, and what was taught in the process.

Keeping a balance in the divinity/humanity of Christ in this episode is not easy. Too much emphasis on the divinity and these events can appear almost frivolous in the scheme of things. Too much humanity, and we fail to appreciate the mysterious and miraculous aspect of what happened.

In my previous post, I simply wanted to highlight that Jesus was pre-occupied with the grief of John, and was simply asking the disciples, what would happen if I was not here to help you out of this bind. What would you do for the crowd?

The disciples response was so human. Send them away.

Jesus says, "That's simply not good enough. Look for another way."

The entire gospel message is about this circumventing of human response to relationship. Jesus was the master at finding a way, when others had given up. This was his purpose on earth. That is why the Father sent him.

Jesus's presence in this miracle and every miracle is crucial, but let's not deny our own contribution and what our role and purpose are.

Thanks for getting the juices flowing.

Regards, KGB