One of the most beautiful and hopeful of Jesus’ miracles was his feeding of the five thousand. Something like that miracle has happened again, right here.
The feeding of the five thousand took place at a time when Jesus’ fame and notoriety was growing. Having just learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded, Jesus slipped away to a deserted place in a boat, but the people followed him. Seeing their great need, he had compassion for them, healed their sick, and taught them all day long. As the day was ending, his disciples raised a practical concern:
When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ (Matthew 14:14-16)
Can you imagine how the disciples must have felt at that moment? There were five thousand people gathered to learn from and be healed by Jesus. That’s a big crowd! And Jesus simply tells his disciples, “You feed them.”
As Christians, we follow Jesus, learn from Jesus, and strive to do his work in the world. In short, we are his disciples. Jesus is still telling us to feed the crowds. And just like the original disciples, we wonder how that can be done.
They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ (Matthew 14:17)
How can we few feed so many? How? Jesus, please tell us. How are we to do this?
And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ (Matthew 14:18)
Bring them to Jesus. Jesus offers the abundant love of God. Jesus offers to the hungry, and to us, that beautiful quality of life that is joyous even in the midst of struggle, grief and loss. Jesus offers love that we can participate in, that we can know, that we can experience and enjoy, and, most importantly, that we can give to others. So the disciples called out to the crowd of hungry people and invited them to come to Jesus. They gathered around, pressing in close to see what Jesus would do next.
Then [Jesus] ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five 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)
“You feed them,” Jesus says, and so a group of disciples from St. Dunstan’s Church collected donations, bought a few fresh ingredients, and cooked a meal for the people of Tent City 3. We took the five loaves and two fish, blessed them with a prayer to God, supplemented them with donations from two Safeway stores, and fed the 104 people at TC3.
And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. (Matthew 14:20)
And when we were done, we gathered up what was left over, and there were even more than 12 baskets full.
This is our food bank collection box, filled to overflowing with donations beyond what we used for that one meal. These bags of cereal, spaghetti noodles, canned vegetables, mashed potato mix, and more, added up to 164 pounds of food. We delivered it all to the Greenwood Food Bank so that even more hungry people will be fed.
God’s love is truly abundant. As Jesus’ disciples, we are privileged to know that abundance. Even the leftovers are a blessing when we obey Christ and feed the hungry ourselves.
Your brother in Christ,