Summary: Proper 11 (b) Christ feeds His people through and by His people, through and by His Holy Church, He brings His word to His disciples and to the world. In our ordinary and daily lives, we are the hands and feet and mouth of Jesus.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“Ordinary People, Extraordinary God”
We are continuing our reading through the Gospel of Mark. You will recall that Jesus had sent out his disciples to preach repentance and gave them authority to heal the sick and cast out demons. Now the disciples return and report to Him all that had happened. They preached repentance and had done miracles in his name. Which is why His name was so famous, that King Herod had heard of Him. And there is again a crowd around all of them, coming and going, so much so that they could not even find time to eat. So Jesus tells them it is time for rest.
They get in a boat and sail away. You can just imagine the relief. It’s so good to be in boat. It seems somehow that your troubles and worries stay on the bank. Fish or no fish, pole or no pole, there is peace and quiet and rest. The disciples were ordinary people, and Jesus gave them rest in an ordinary way.
They land a ways up of the coast. The crowd could see where they were going, the words spreads, and by the time they land, a crowd is already there. Yet instead of being frustrated, Jesus has compassion for them. And he begins to teach them. It’s getting on towards supper time. The disciples say to Jesus, “Hey, we’re out here in the middle of the countryside. It’s beautiful, but there’s nothing out here. Send these people away, so they can buy something to eat.” “You give them food to eat.” “What? Do you think we can just go to town and get bread for everybody, Like we have thousands of dollars on us?” “Go, look and see what bread you do have,” Jesus says. The disciples walk through the crowd. “Five loaves, and yeah, and these here two fish.”
“Have the people to sit down.” So the disciples have the people to sit on the fresh, green, grass. Jesus bless the food, and gives it to the disciples, and they give it to the people. They pass it out, up, down, around, and around some more. Everybody eats till they are full. They gather up the leftovers – 12 baskets full. And there were 5,000 people.
What happened? The disciples were ordinary people. And they were doing very ordinary thing – passing out food. Waiting tables. We eat every day. Several times. Hard to think of an activity that isn’t more ordinary. That’s one of the challenges of keeping a house, isn’t. Meals are so daily. You never get done.
What kind of food were they passing around. Bread. Plain old bread. Oh, some fish. But you can’t get more basic then bread. So what have we got? We got ordinary men, doing an ordinary task, with ordinary food. It’s hard to think of anything more ordinary, more run of the mill, than that.
But what happened? Jesus multiplied the bread. How did that happen? Where and when did that happen? The text does not say. And that’s the point. It’s not about how Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish. It’s about how He feed them. Or did He?
"Now, vicar. What do you mean, or did he? Of course Jesus fed the people, weren’t you listening to your own sermon, to the story?" Well, let’s look at it again.
The disciples wanted to send the people away. They wanted the people to go and buy their own food. They people should go and feed themselves. That was their plan. “Buy for themselves something to eat.” What did Jesus say, what was His plan? “You feed them.” Listen again. “You feed them.” Jesus didn’t say, “I’ll feed them.” His plan was for the disciples to feed the people.
But the disciples didn’t get His plan. They actually mocked Jesus. "You want we should go to town and buy all this food? Like, with what? Are you crazy?" The disciples did not understand. By now, you think they would have. They had seen miracles before. In fact, they had just done miracles. He had just given them authority to cast out demons and heal the sick, and they, not He, but they had gone and done it. And come a-running back, and telling Him all about, and everything they had done. So now, He tells them, you feed them. But they don’t get it. Why? What’s the problem?
Unbelief. They did not believe Jesus’ word. They did not trust in His command. If they did, but had some questions about how, they would not have mocked Him. They would have said, “Jesus, we believe You. But we don’t know how. Please, tell us how.” But they were not operating in belief. They were still blinded by their own unbelief. So blinded they did not even see what they did have. Jesus has to tell them, Go. Look. See, what you have.