Believe and Obey

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Jesus Hears, Sees, and Responds

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Chasing Jesus

This week’s text is Matthew 14: 13-21.  This is the famous feeding of the five thousand.  This is an important miracle because, other than the resurrection itself, it is the only miracle that appears in all four gospels. 

The story starts with Jesus withdrawing from the crowds and going off by Himself to be alone.  One should not wonder why.  Jesus is likely exhausted from the demands placed upon Him by His followers.  Yet, even in His attempt to be alone and recharge Jesus sees that a great crowd had gathered to see Him.  It is true that Jesus meets us where we are, even when He finds those who are pursuing Him.

Responding, As Always

Jesus, even though He went to be alone, does not fail to respond to those chasing Him.  He immediately shows compassion for those that are gathered and begins to cure their sick (Verse 14).  As the evening wore on the disciples came to Jesus and suggest that they should send the crowd home so that they can go buy food for themselves.  This is not as inhospitable as one might think.  The disciples very well could have had the best of intentions.  After all, how would they know that Jesus was about to perform a miracle.

What we see here is a Jesus who is always ready to serve and to give.  He simply tells the disciples to give them something to eat (Verse 16).  It is not easy to follow the example of Jesus, but it is not complicated.  Just give them something to eat.  That is, do something for those around you.

Meanings, Large and Small

What are we to take away from this miracle story.  First, always be willing to serve.  It is not difficult to see need all around us.  It may be hunger, it may be homelessness, or it may be hopelessness.  When, not if, we see need, respond.  Do whatever you can, that is all we as humans can do. 

The larger meaning is quite a bit larger.  Jesus is making an eschatological point about the abundant power of God to provide us all that we need in this world and the next.  There is also the clear reference to the 12 tribes of Israel in that 12 baskets of leftovers were filled.  This is not surprising in that Matthew is very focused on the Jewishness of Jesus’s ministry.  Although Matthew does recognize the wider scope of Jesus’s message in the 15th. chapter when discussing the feeding of the 4000, in which 7 baskets of leftovers are produced representing the Gentiles.

In the end this is a twofold lesson.  One part is about the eternal Jesus teaching us about all that God has, is and will do for humanity.  This is also an earthly lesson about being aware of the needs of others and serving them as best we can, even if we can’t perform feeding miracles.  These dual lessons are fitting as Jesus is both God and man.  It highlights that God is doing something eternal through His Son, and yet God calls us to emulate His Son right here on earth (and right now I would add).

So, go forward trusting that God’s love and care for His children is abundant and miraculous.  Also go forward seeking to do the best we can for all those God puts in our lives.  That is believe, then obey.

Praise Be to God

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