Our Grand-daughter Cara, when she was much younger, was caught up with the life of a princess. She would want to say Grace at the supper table and upon completion she would lift her hands and pronounce: “Let the Royal Feast begin.”
Jesus turns to his disciples and says let the “Feast Begin”. However, the disciples didn’t know how to react. Close to ten thousand men, women and children and you say let the Feast Begin? How would you suggest this occur? Jesus – you are obviously seeing something here that we do not see!
The setting for the story is a “deserted place,” obviously near the sea but the word “desert,” “wilderness” brings to mind the Israelites pilgrimage through the desert and the provision of Manna from heaven. Have you noticed that miracles more often than not come during times of desolation, separation, the low times in our life?
Jesus had just heard of the death of his cousin John the Baptist who had been killed by Herod. Jesus was looking for some quiet time to be alone. You know how it is in those early days of grief. I am pretty sure the last thing Jesus wanted was a crowd of people, no less thousands waiting upon his every word. I find it extremely telling. Jesus saw the crowd, put his own feelings aside, showed compassion and began to heal everyone who was brought to him.
Compassion, healing and provision seems to be a common occurrence in the life of Jesus even when most of us would need and want our own space. Yet, the Provision of God is seen! Jesus miraculously feeds the large crowd with meager provisions of only a few fish and a small quantity of bread.
But it is also Interesting that Jesus requires the disciples to be participants in the miracle. He says: You do something! You give them something to eat” (14:15-16). Matthew underscores the role of the disciples in distributing the food once it has been blessed by Jesus (14:19).
How often do we see Jesus say to us: “It is my power, my blessing but you need to be the feet, the hands, the mouth to bring that healing, to bring compassion; so that a miracle may be given to the people.
We often look for signs and wonders. We seek a miracle like the feeding of the five thousand or Jesus walking on the water, or the healing of the paralytic. But the miraculous sign that we see is the little boy giving his two fish and five loaves of bread.
We see it over and over again don’t we? God taking the little that we give him, and He multiplies it 100 fold. It is that stepping out in faith; stepping over the line if you will and TRUSTING.
We give the little that we have and Jesus multiplies it 100 fold.
Sometimes our prayer, “send the crowds away” speaks more about ourselves than anything else. It says, “Send my problem away. Eliminate my needs.”
And the answer comes back, You give them something to eat. You do something about it. You handle it.
When we say: “We can’t,” Jesus asks us to use what we have, take the little resources we have. Sometimes our greatest resource is the knowledge that we have overcome problems in the past. Sometimes the best thing we have to give others is that knowledge. We did it and so can you. We saw Jesus feed the 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. He can do it for you.
There is that famous opening scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz. We see Dorothy’s life in Kansas all in black-and-white, which was what audiences in 1939 were used to. Then, when the tornado blows her, Toto and her house “somewhere over the rainbow,” Dorothy opens the door on Oz and suddenly everything is in colour.
That’s what Jesus does for us when we take stock of our resources in the face of our need and put them into God’s hands. We go ahead in faith with what we have. Our eyes are opened to just how powerful he is — how abundant the resources of God are.
I have been reminded often this week… how big our God really is.
He takes what is impossible for us and turns it into an opportunity for God to show his power, wisdom and His love.