August 4, 2002

Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus got the news [of John the Baptist's death], he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully -- someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.

Toward evening the disciples approached him. "We're out in the country and its getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper."

But Jesus said, "There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper."

"All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish," they said.

Jesus said, "Bring them here." Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.

[The Message ]


1. Death by political intrigue is always enough to give one pause - Jesus, no less than you or me. Early on he is brought to Egypt in a similar moment. We are still facing these moments even if they are more subtle (economic domination, slow rather than fast death). What do you do when you hear about politics as usual - block it out because you can't do anything about it? Retreat to pray and plan? Write your leaders or demonstrate?

2. While getting his mind around John's death, evaluating the new state of affairs, and following the spiritual disciplines he had found helpful, Jesus finds the world of need continuing to press upon him. He could have see his retreat as more important and left for yet another place. He could have led the needy in evaluating the causes of their plight and organizing to not take it any more. He could have said, "I quit." Yet we hear that pity/mercy rose to the the operating procedure for the moment. What needs to be in place within us to allow pity/mercy to become our operating procedure?

3. Interesting how Jesus did not have pity/mercy on his disciples. For them it was Jesus' teaching/demonstration. "I'm glad," said Jesus, "to hear you have picked up on the need of the people and had pity/mercy enough to give them time to go off and care for themselves (even if they don't have the resources to do that, you will offer them the time). Would it not be a deepening of your pity/mercy to not only provide time but also resources for the time? Why don't you feed them? Wouldn't that "save" time? Oh, right, you think you have so little yourself. Well, let's see what can be done with a little."

Pray, "Bountiful GOD, I have so little, the needs are so great. I'll do what I can with what I've got and you do what you can with what you've got. Together, this has brought enough and more. Blessings upon all as we work together."

Homepage | Sermon Prep