Text study Matthew 14:13-21
Lectionary text for July 31, 2011
“Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the fives 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” (Matthew 14:19).
We all know what came next. The feeding of the 5,000 men plus women and children that left baskets of leftovers is overwhelmingly powerful. But let’s not go there too quickly.
Imagine the moment of verse 19. The crowd did not know what was going to happen next. The disciples had no idea what was going on, nor could they even imagine the possibility of the miracle to come.
The hungry crowds were a problem to be solved. Everyone is hungry. There either had to be more food or less people. The most creative solution they could come up with was to send the crowd away to the surrounding towns to buy food.
But Jesus would have none of it. No one knew whether the people in the crowds had the money or if the nearby towns could accommodate their needs.
Instead of following the limited human imagination, Jesus lifted up the pathetically small amount of food above his head and blessed it.
What were the crowds thinking? “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding! That’s not enough food for everyone.” “Now what?” “Is it first come, first served?” “Are the only ones who are going to eat the inner circle of disciples?” “Are they going to pick and choose who is going to eat?”
There had to have been a moment when the crowds wondered if this was pure foolishness or a profound act of faith. In the moment of Matthew 14:19, Jesus acted in an unexpected way with audacious trust and faith in God’s provision for God’s children.
Too little for too many
We live in a world where it seems there are too many people and too little to go around. We know all too well the fear and panic that arises from limited resources. We want to ensure our own security in whatever way we can imagine.
As of the writing of this blog, there has been no decision or compromise about this nation’s debt ceiling. The deficit increases. The fragile economy limps along. Unemployment remains unbearably high.
States are decreasing funding in all directions, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable in our midst. Many households decide daily which bills to leave unpaid, which prescription will be left unfilled, which meal will be skipped or even where to sleep tomorrow. In Africa, children die while seeking a morsel of food.
We are in a Matthew 14:19 moment that calls us to the unexpected path of audacious trust and faith in God’s provision for God’s children.
We are a people of faith and hope. As Paul assures us in Romans 8, we need not fear anything on account of Christ’s death and resurrection. The solution to the needs of the world will need to be audaciously trusting of the resources God provides.
God’s abundant care for God’s children provides beyond our imagination and fear. Let us give thanks for what we have and open our eyes to see how God will provide abundant life, faith and hope.
Where are the needful and wanting places you see in your life or community?
How do you give thanks even when that for which you give thanks seems meager or “not enough”?
Where have you seen God provide abundance beyond your imagination?
Matthew Ollikainen is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Barto, Pa.