“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. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 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.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 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. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
NRSV MATTHEW 14:13-21
Most folks live for the weekend where it is time to shed all the weekly responsibilities and just relax in the gardens or grass cutting. It is the time we take to re—create or let God recreate us. To calm our anxious hearts…to let God speak to that anxiety.
We find Jesus trying to do just that…relax and re-create. After hearing of the news of John the Baptist and having spent a great deal of time in ministry, it was time for Jesus to sail to the other side of the lake to find some quiet time.
Upon his arriving, he went ashore, and he saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick. For Jesus, the need was ever present. There was always going to be the sick, the hurting, and the lonely. Jesus identified that the need was great, and there was not going to be an end, so he chose to be compassionate.
As long as we live in this world, there will be things that will vie for our attention. Children, taxes, work, recreation, health, church. God has entrusted those things to us, and to live in balance and harmony with them.
Jesus showed the proper perspective in taking time to get away, to refocus, before the demands of everyday living overwhelming us. When there is such a large task before us, it is important that we begin to set things in priority. But you can’t do that to the exclusion of the other.
The text says that Jesus was moved with compassion. He could have gotten all bent out of shape, saying, “this is my day off, I’m not budging,” but rather he was moved with compassion.
We can very easily say, “Don’t bother me, I’ve got other things pressing on me.” Jesus needed time to grieve but chose to minister to those around him. He chose compassion. You see we, you, and I, choose our attitude. We choose how we will respond in life. The task may seem overwhelming, or not on our to-do list, or it may even distract us from our goal, but God offers us a choice to make and we answer that choice in our reactions to the situation that we are presented with.
If we only open our hearts, minds, and souls we will notice and remember that God is always right there beside us, lifting us up, holding us in the palm of God’s hands. Always whispering… “nothing is impossible.”
I’ve got to tell all y’all…that some days feel like it is impossible to do ministry. COVID-19 has changed everything. Every step along the way it seems that a huge “NO WAY” sign is thrust in front of me. Generally, I have always knocked those signs down but I’m not as young as I once was and perhaps, I recognize the windmill for what it is… am immovable object…impossible to bring down.
After a long day of ministry, it was past dinner time, and the disciples come to Jesus and present the problem. " As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."
Picture yourself as a disciple now and hear what Jesus says about the “opportunity” "They don’t need to go away; you give them something to eat"
Covid-19 or not you and I aren’t facing five thousand hungry bellies but I can tell you we know someone that needs a meal…a child that faces a school year of discontent because they are being bullied or don’t have the resources to compete. The isolation of the days has you down…perhaps you feel all alone. Maybe you are facing unchartered waters…there are a lot of people in your boat! What you know is that you only have a shot glass when you need a barrel to solve your problem. “Lord, you’ve given me too much to handle.” You look up to heaven and cry, “Help! I don’t know what to do!”
I suggest that when Jesus hears that word HELP and sees your eyes lifted towards him… his response is “you might not know what to do but I do!” No need to get anxious…I’ve fed 15,000 people with just two small fish and five little loaves of bread. Hold my microphone! Before you count coins, or problems …open your heart and think of all the times I have helped you. Before you shake your head look up again to heaven, look up in faith and take a moment…I am right with you!
Jesus declares, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Jesus is ready…ready to feed the multitudes, ready to help us in our every need. He has the power to make change the way we look at things, at others, and ourselves. As William Barclay says in his commentary on this text (thank you Gene McNeill), “It does not matter how we understand this miracle. One thing is sure---When Christ, is there, the weary find rest and the hungry soul is fed.”
We may not have to feed 15,000 people but we have the opportunity to be a miracle in someone’s life. Perhaps a telephone call to one we know is lonely. Perhaps a nice plate of cookies or homemade snacks for one that hasn’t seen anyone in a while. Perhaps we might fill the Blessing Box or send some dry goods in for the Backpack Mission. Whatever the ministry is … Jesus will do the multiplying, that is for certain!