Every other woman who came to the Lenten soup supper last night had a loaf of bread under her arm. We’ve never had so much bread. And Pastor Bob’s sermon was on our daily bread!
Last night after the service, I read the story of how Jesus fed the 5,000 men, plus a lot of women and children. This story is in all four Gospels, and I think that says something about its importance (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15). Jesus had been teaching crowds of people in a remote place late into the day, and the people were getting hungry.
I guess those women forgot to bring their loaves.
The disciples urged Jesus to send the people away to find food. In John’s version of the story, Jesus tested Philip by asking him: “Where shall we buy enough bread for all of these people to eat?” In the other three Gospels Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat”.
While the disciples struggled with the logistics, a boy brought his lunch to Jesus – 5 loaves and 2 fish. In the book of John we learn that they were “small barley loaves” and “small fish”.
What faith it took for that boy to believe that his small lunch, given to Jesus, could make a difference for that immense crowd of people! That kind of faith can only be a gift from God. And the boy’s willingness to do it was surely a gift from God also (he was after all, hungry himself).
Seeking Jesus and being near Him bring a willingness, a desire even, to give and the faith to believe, even in the face of overwhelming need, that the giving to Jesus will make a difference.
Today, with internet and t.v., you can’t get away from the need in the world. It’s everywhere. There’s a lot of need right here in our own community, and in our church. There’s a lot of need right in my own family.
We can struggle with the logistics of meeting that need, decide that we can’t do much about it, insulate ourselves from it, feel angry, sad or even depressed and anxious about it…or we can faithfully bring our 5 small loaves and 2 small fish to Jesus knowing and trusting that He can do great things with them.
That’s really what Jesus asks of us.
When I think of outreach and how to bring hope to all of the hopeless people, I feel like I need to leave church and go out into the world with 5,000 loaves in my arms (plus some stuffed in my pockets and purse for the women and children). But as Pastor said in his sermon last night, faith is about pressing on certain that God will provide. God is the one who provides.
And He provides more than what we need. Remember the 12 baskets of left over pieces?
The day after being miraculously fed, the crowd following Jesus asked Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” (John 6:28) Jesus answered them:
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)