Summary: The three principles from the Feeding of the 5,000
“God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.” (Don Moen)
Don Moen wrote a famous Christian song, "God will make a way, where there seems to be no way" – and I think this could well sum up this evening’s Gospel reading -"The Feeding of the 5,000".
The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is told in three of the four Gospels, Mt, Mk and Jn.
In St. John’s account – which was read to us this evening - we see that the physical feeding of the 5,000 as a prefiguring of Jesus’ monumental claim:
“I am the Bread of life, he who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never go thirsty.” (Jn 6:35)
Jesus fed the multitudes physically as he feeds the multitudes today spiritually. Indeed that is the essence of some interpretations of the Holy Communion in the Anglican Church.
However, can this story have any practical relevance today?
I believe so,. The story in itself illustrates three Christian principles about the character of God, that in our struggles in life we can tend to overlook.
I. It is important to bring our problems and concerns to God, knowing God is in control. Our problems don’t go away, but we acknowledge that God can deal with them.
II. We will be surprised that God will use our meagre resources- in ways we cannot dream about.
III. When God acts, He supplies liberally.
Let’s look at each of these principles.
1. The first principle is that God wants us to bring our problems to Him.
The disciples had a massive problem – how to feed 5,000 people – with no supermarkets to buy from.
It seemed an impossible problem. But they did the
only thing they could – they looked to Jesus for the answer.
Story: Last year in one of our fifteen parishes, one of the treasurers (Sylvia Chesterman) despaired of paying the Parish Share - with so few people in church giving regularly.
The previous year, the Church had defaulted and
she just couldn’t see how they could possibly pay
this year either.
So when the bill for the Parish Share came, she took it into church and laid it on the altar.
Within six months, God had provided and the parish share was paid in full.
2. The second principle is that God can take OUR meagre resources and use them spectacularly.
We might feel, like the disciples, did that five loaves and two fishes wasn’t going anywhere, but our gifts in the hands of God can be multiplied spectacularly.
Often we think that what we have to offer isn’t worth offering.
Jesus took the five loaves and two fishes to feed 5000 people.
Story: When I was in Switzerland, I heard a
Scottish preacher, Alex Gillies tell this true story.
Alex had started a church up in Scotland but the premises were too small for the Community work they wanted to be engaged in.
As Alex was walking down the street, he saw a
pound note on the floor (you can see how old this story is) and he heard the voice of God inside him saying: I will provide the vacant building opposite for you with this £1.
As the Glasgow City Council were wanting to dispose of the building, Alex took his £1 note to the local solicitor in charge of receiving the bids. The solicitor laughed and said: If you get it for a £1, I’ll pay it myself.
Come the day of the Council meeting, at which they were going to dispose of the property, Alex went along. He met an old acquaintance - one of the Councillors, a dour Scottish Communist party member, who told him that he would not allow the building to be used for a Christian church. He told Alex he would vote against selling the building to become a Church.
When the Council business got down to selling this particular building – there was only one bid – Alex’s. The Councillors were a bit nonplussed, but could not vote on it, unless someone proposed it.
So one of the Council proposed the offer and a second seconded it. And Alex’s bid was carried unanimously.
Alex went up to the old Communist afterwards and said: I thought you were going to vote against it. The old Communist replied: “I don’t know what happened, I just felt my hand being pushed up in the air!”
God provides but He has chosen to use the little we have to kick-start the process. I find that exciting – that I can participate in God’s solution to my problems
3. The third principle is that when God supplies the needs, everyone goes home satisfied
What has often surprised me in this story is the