Summary: We can all make changes - sacrifices if you insist- enabling us to give more to God so that we can better participate in His work.

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July 31, 2005

The 11th Sunday after Pentecost

Series A

Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand

All four Gospel writers report this event - each with his unique perspective. Jesus, upon

hearing of the fate of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee,

withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Crowds of people followed Him to this

place on foot and arrived ahead of Him. If you have ever been in the middle of a lake

with little or no wind, it is not hard to explain the crowd arriving ahead of Jesus. Perhaps

the lake provided the solitude that Jesus needed -- for when He arrived on shore He

appeared to be refreshed, He had compassion on the crowd and healed the sick. Mark

tells us that He began teaching them many things. He could have stayed on the boat and

ignored the crowd -- but that is not the nature of our Savior who came to serve. The

disciples became concerned for the welfare of the crowd and encouraged Jesus to send

them away so they could go to the villages and buy some food . John’s perspective of this

event gives us insight into the thinking of the disciples. Jesus tested Philip - Where shall

we buy bread for these people to eat ? Philip wasn’t concerned with where -- he had a

problem with how -- he stated that eight months wages would provide only a bite for

each person. We have to pause here and ask -- were the disciples concerned for the

crowd or were they more concerned for the condition of their treasury?-- Did they have

the money but didn’t want to share? - Again from John’s Gospel we learn that Andrew

found a small boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish -- how could this little

contribution feed so many? By sending the crowds away, an opportunity would be

missed. This was another chance for Jesus to demonstrate through - a miraculous sign -

who He was and to further document that He is the Son of God, the promised Messiah,

the redeemer of lost mankind. --- Imagine missing a preaching opportunity with a crowd

of five thousand men plus women and children for the lack of a little food?

We all know that Jesus could have produced the food without any help - but that would

have denied the little boy the opportunity to participate in the work of the Lord. Jesus

didn’t need the food from the boy -- the little boy needed to give the food so that he could

participate in the Lord’s work. He could easily have said - I was smart enough to plan for

this contingency -- why should I share with those of you who didn’t. He could have also

said they walked here -- let them walk home. They made their beds, let them sleep in

them. He could have said if - Jesus is such a great teacher, he should plan his excursions

a little better and arrange for food -- all these preachers want is donations. Let’s face it

-- the little boy could have come up with plenty of reasons why he wasn’t going to part

with his lunch to support the work of the Lord - we certainly have our bags of excuses.

Like the widow’s gift of two very small copper coins - all she had to live on, this boy

gave all that he had to eat that day -- they both gave sacrificially. They both gave in faith

that the Lord would provide. They both gave expecting nothing in return. Jesus did not

explain to the boy His plan so that the boy could say -- OK this makes sense - I will help.

Jesus didn’t need to promise the boy a memorial plaque for the location. They did not

offer to rename the location to honor the donor. -- The boy gave sacrificially because he

trusted in the Lord. He gave expecting nothing in return and he gave quietly without

calling attention to himself.

This miracle is repeated daily in our lives. All of life is a miracle - all of creation. The

germination of seed to produce food, the soil to nurture the plants, the rain to make plants

grow into food.. The reproduction of fish and other animals for food -- the millions of

observed, studied, and researched behaviors that we try to understand in life are all

miracles that we take for granted. The rotation of the Earth at just the right distance from

the Sun. The many raw materials provided for us to live and prosper. The intellectual

skills that we have to manage economies and the production and distribution of resources

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