Sermon Preparation -
August 1, 1999

Matthew 14:13-21

After Jesus heard about John [being beheaded by Herod], he crossed Lake Galilee to go to some place where he could be alone. But the crowds found out and followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd. He felt sorry for them and healed everyone who was sick.

That evening the disciples came to Jesus and said, "This place is like a desert, and it is already late. Let the crowds leave, so they can go to the villages and buy some food."

Jesus replied, "They don't have to leave. Why don't you give them something to eat.?"

But they said, "We have only five small loaves of bread and two fish." Jesus asked his disciples to bring the food to him, and he told the crowd to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and handed it to his disciples, and they gave it to the people.

After everyone had eaten all they wanted, Jesus' disciples picked up twelve large baskets of leftovers.

There were about five thousand men who ate, not counting the women and children.


1. We are led to believe that the destination of Jesus is some lonely place. It turns out that the destination was a large crowd that called forth additional ministry. It is likely that the lonely place was not the other side of the lake, but the lake itself. And so it is important to take time in the middle of events to be in contemplation of GOD's mystery -- John, Jesus' forerunner and cousin, violently and senselessly dead. Jesus grieving on the lake (is that too big a jump) in the moment given -- for who knows what will be at the expected destination. Best to deal with life as it happens.

2. In the NRSV the disciples response to Jesus' request that they give the crowd something to eat is, "We have nothing...but five loaves and two fish." Ahh, yes, "nothing." Oh how we all claim to have nothing. And yet with blessing, every nothing becomes a something and behold, it is good. Have you ever found yourself saying, perhaps even in these words, "I don't have anything." Pray that you might know yourself blessed; it will change everything.

3. Another image here is that Jesus took the "nothing" the disciples had, blessed it, and gave it back to them as "something." Instead of bemoaning what you don't have, offer what you don't have to Jesus. You will be returned that which is needed. Yep, it's crazy from the world's usual perspective and common sense. But it does reward one's spirit/soul and carry over into everyday life. It is transformative to offer what we don't have.

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