Feeding the 5000
“Blessed and Broken”
“Sir, we would see Jesus”
August 3, 2008
Matthew 14: 13-21
Covered dish dinners – food for everyone!
Feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14: 13-21) and the Feeding of the 4,000 (Matthew 15: 29 – 39) are nearly the same stories: Jesus had compassion and fed the people. In the first story, Jesus fed the Jews who followed Him in His journey in Israel. In the second story, the feeding of the 4,000, in today’s Jordan, Jesus feeds the Gentiles.
To support these statements, allow me to skip to the end: the extra food was gathered into baskets. In the feeding of the 5,000, the baskets were called in Greek – “kophinoi;” in the feeding of the 4,000, the baskets were called “sphurides.” In the feeding of the 5,000, the “kophinoi” were a narrow-necked, flask shaped basket which the Jews often carried with them, for a Jew often carried his own food, lest he should be compelled to eat food which had been touched by Gentile hands and was therefore unclean. In the feeding of the 4,000, the “sphurides” basket was much more like a hamper; it could be big enough to carry a man, and it was a kind of basket that a Gentile would use. God cares for all persons.
By the way, the Bible clearly records the number of men 5,000 or 4,000, plus women and plus children. Assuming each man was married and they only had a minimum of 2 children. In the first story, it could mean a minimum of 20,000 and the second story 16,000. It is more likely; a family had eight to ten children. The 5,000 could be pushed as high as 60,000! Wow, that is a lot of people. The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 really grows! Know this: God cares for men, women, and children.
Jesus’ compassion is for the blessed and broken persons. God radically cares for all. Jesus models His radical compassion by resting, blessing and caring for the broken.
1. Jesus rested. Jesus the Savior of the world, Jesus the Son of God, and Jesus the fully man fully God rested.
In each story, Jesus withdraws to rest. Before feeding the 5,000, Jesus was exhausted from the grief of loosing John the Baptist. He loved John the Baptist and was deeply moved with sorrow from the brutal slaying of John. Jesus is acquainted with our sadness of loss. Jesus withdrew from His work and ministry to rest. He grieved over the loss which takes time to vent the full realm of emotions. Grieving also means resting because we are exhausted - physically and emotionally. Loosing a loved one hurts deeply and we sleep a lot more. Jesus withdrew to rest and He models this for us.
In the second story, Jesus withdrew to rest and to spend one on one time with His disciples. Resting and teaching take time. Jesus knew that the disciples would ultimately take the Good News to all the world. To teach His disciples, He needed to model the cycle of learning, resting, ministering. Some scholars suggest, as Jesus moved to the other side of the Lake, it meant He journeyed. The trip may have taken six months to travel to today’s Jordan where the decapolis cities exist. Six months to let the teaching sink into deeper levels of their awareness. Six months to teach and rest. Six months to allow the spiritual significance of faith take on deeper and more profound meanings. Our society today rushes us from teaching to action way too fast. What would happen if we rested and learned and then ministered?
The Asian methodology of going to seminary is very different than the American model where we academically learn for three years and then graduate to minister. In the Far East, Christians live in community where they rest, learn, minister and repeat the cycle for a longer period of time.
Jesus withdraws to rest. God calls us to take a Sabbath and keep it holy. The fifth of the 10 Commandments from Exodus 20 clearly states: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” A Sabbath is one day a week to rest. A Sabbath Holy day is a day a week set apart for God – not for work and not for the ordinary daily grind, but for us to rest and honor God. We are to bless God and give thanks to God. The Sabbath Holy day is filled with gratitude and rest. God created in six days and rested. Jesus ministered and rested. Are you resting?
2. We rest and are Blessed. After resting, we are blessed to serve. We bless God and then become a blessing to others. Like the bumper sticker stated: “Blessed to be a Blessing.” Blessing defined.
Blessing means to acknowledge our God with all our strength, kneel and praise God. We take on an attitude of worship as we bless God. We bless with all our strength utilizing our heart, mind, soul, and body. The full focus of blessing is always God.
Therefore, to receive a blessing means to receive God’s full strength of love, mercy, grace and gratitude. We do not deserve or earn the blessing of God. God’s blessing comes from God alone. As we receive the blessings, we then freely give it away. We do so because we are to represent and re-present our Savior’s actions of love and forgiveness.
In each story, the crowds follow. They recognize the blessings imparted by Jesus and want to receive more and more. They want God’s forgiveness, love and mercy.
Like the beginnings of the Pitman Camp grounds. People came from all over to receive Christ, receive the blessing and then bless others. They came and did not want to leave so the tents became hardier shelters which eventually became homes. Blessed to be a blessing. Once you receive the blessing, you never want to let go.
Jesus saw the crowd and saw their human condition. So, he healed their physical hurts and changed lives.
Jesus saw the crowd, had compassion for them and then blessed God. Literally, he picked up the five loves and 2 fish and blessed God for the food. In giving thanks to God, the little became much. God received the blessing and then blessed the people.
3. Jesus rested, blessed and recognized the brokenness of their bodies.
Before we go too far, we are interrupted by our brokenness. The disciples wanted to send the crowds away. They saw the large numbers and saw only 5 loaves and 2 fish and said “we can’t do this. Send them away.”
They were hungry and Jesus had compassion upon them.
We recognize hunger on others faces. We know hunger as we become diminished in our abilities. When we are hungry, we can hardly move forward. We are weak and physically unable to take the next step. We are hungry and we are reminded of our humanness: weak and broken. Food temporally satisfies the physical hunger.
Jesus saw the crowds, saw their brokenness and fed them.
Miracle of the five loaves and fish
The Miracle of the broken bread heals our brokenness.
God radically cares for all. Jesus models His radical compassion by resting, blessing and caring for the broken.
Brokenness healed by food is temporary; brokenness healed by grace is eternal.