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Categorized | From the Pulpit

You give them something to eat

C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. 

Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 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.” 

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children” Matthew 14: 13-21.

 According to the Gospel of Matthew, the beheading of John the Baptist changes the scope of Jesus’ ministry. Up until this time, Jesus was teaching and leading his disciples through some important lessons.  The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of lessons about not only discipleship but also some practical advice on how to behave in the vision of the kingdom that Jesus describes. Many of these sayings have been incorporated into our everyday speech like “turn the other cheek,” “eye for an eye,”  “salt of the earth and others. Also, up until this time, Jesus has been doing everything, he has healed the sick, cast out demons and is teaching about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  So it must have been somewhat surprising to the disciples when they tried to get rid of the hungry crowds, Jesus does something different. He puts the disciples in charge. Jesus turns the tables and says, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples, of course, are dumbfounded and look at themselves and then to Jesus and said, essentially, “We can’t feed them, we don’t have enough food.”  Of course, Jesus shows them they are wrong, what they have is enough.

As we encounter this world we live in, we, too, are sometimes at a loss for how to make disciples for Jesus Christ. We complain that we don’t have enough, we don’t  have the right kind of church building, the right music, the right community.  We would like to do more for local missions such as the food pantry, Second Chance School, or Kid’s Hope but we think we just don’t have enough.  Our text today disagrees with our assessment; we do have enough if we allow Jesus to be at the center of all we do. Jesus has entrusted us with bringing the Good News to those who desperately need to be fed and with Jesus’ help we do have enough.  You give them something to eat.

 

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