Summary: It seems Jesus is deliberately inviting me to look beyond the simple awareness of a need. Jesus is inviting me NOT TO MISS AN OPPORTUNITY to accomplish the EXTRAORDINARY in ANY situation.
Matthew 15:29-38 – FISH AND CHIPS ON A COLD WINTER’S DAY
Midday Friday the smell of Fish and Chips wafts in through the adjoining doors as our small group sings the last song. I scan the ancient, lined faces who listen to Words of Life every week in this area of the Shalom Centre and we feel the presence of the Lord as rusty voices give substance to their faith. We ask for Dave’s recovery in hospital and give thanks for the food and then begin the slow, measured and deliberate process of getting to the meal table in the next room. Sunshine washes through the window as I collect the hymnbooks but the persistent seeping draft under the door leaves no doubt that winter is arriving, and my thoughts, like shadows, flicker in the cold air of another winter long ago.
Jesus leaves Tyre and goes up to Sidon even further into Gentile territory. Before leaving Jewish territory the grass was green (Matthew 14:19). Now the ground is barren; winter has come (Matthew 15:33).
Decapolis. The miraculous events taking place here are lifechanging. Jews among Gentiles, His disciples are learning that these lost, outcast, and needy people are loved by God. Intensive training at the coalface instils in them that the message of the gospel is also for Gentiles. I attend to His words and take notes.
Jesus teaches me about…
AVAILABILITY – He sits down (Matthew 15:29) with those humble enough to see their need. APPROACHABILITY – No one an outcast. He welcomes me. COMPASSION - There are times when I am so NOT “moved with compassion” as Jesus is (Matthew 15:32). Pity maybe, but not compassion. Compassion is different. Compassion is committed to lean in and to DO something when pity has been overwhelmed. Jesus doesn’t just have sympathy or empathy. He goes further and meets the needs of the people who come to Him, healing everyone; every kind of sickness and suffering, both physical and spiritual. Nothing is impossible for Him (Matthew 15:30-31). Lord bring Your healing touch to Dave today.
PROVISION - He waits until I am well and truly hungry, after three days and nothing left to eat. When my resources are not enough. When my humanity is inadequate when faced with the enormity of the need. When I am empty, drained of solutions and concern, and feeling lost. Just when I want to leave work, go home, forget about those in need and be with my family. Let those in need learn to find a way to meet their own needs (Matthew 14:15)! Ever feel this way? That’s when Jesus says to me “I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.” (Matthew 15:32 NLT). “How much bread do you have?” (Matthew 15:34 NLT). He is more concerned with what I have in my hand than the enormity of the need.
4000 men! Some of the women and children would have stayed at home but many were there. 8,000 people? 16,000? It’s absurd to seat eight to sixteen thousand people with the view to feeding them with “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.” (Matthew 15:34 NLT). Surely not! “Unsatisfactory, insignificant, insufficient, inadequate, deficient, lacking, not nearly enough!”
THANKFULNESS - Jesus simply tells us to sit down and get ready for a miracle. The blessing is given and Jesus breaks the bread. CO-OPERATION - Jesus invites me to help distribute what He places in my hand. It seems to multiply as I go. He takes it, blesses it, breaks it, gives it away. The more I distribute the more there is that remains. 7 baskets of provision left over, untouched. Not junk food; fish and chips, but healthy Omega 3 oil bearing fish that only John West chooses (according to the Ad) and barley bread. What would the world look like if we brought what was in our hands to Jesus. Compassion and responsibility would accomplish the extraordinary (Matthew 14:15-21). More than enough!
Jesus, using bread as a symbol of relationship says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever COMES to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever BELIEVES in Me will never be thirsty” John 6:35 (NLT). THE JESUS DIET.
GENEROSITY - Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Jesus says “… pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38 NLT) More than enough.
It seems Jesus is deliberately inviting me to look beyond the simple awareness of a need. Jesus is inviting me NOT TO MISS AN OPPORTUNITY to accomplish the EXTRAORDINARY in ANY situation. He invites me to be responsive to what God can do through me, to use what I have in my hand. To show COMPASSION and not just pity. To rely on Him to get me through.