8/1/99, P10A

“Jesus Feeds the 20-K”
Matthew 14: 13-21

n our story we find Jesus on vacation. He needed some down time after hearing of the beheading of his cousin John, so he went off to a desert place. However, he had become so popular in Palestine that somebody found out where he was (maybe the TV-11 news helicopter) and the crowds followed him. Most were probably just curiosity seekers, some wanted to see another miracle; after all, he had cured a demoniac, raised a dead girl to life, and turned water into wine. Yet, as is still the case, a few of the multitude were genuinely seeking a spiritual blessing and they were not disappointed.

When Jesus saw the crowd he had “compassion” on them (14:13; Mk. 6:34). Jesus began to “heal” their sick, and Mark adds that he also “taught” them: Luke says that he both taught and healed. (9:11). John’s account adds that it was the evening of the beginning of Passover and that Jesus felt some
responsibility to provide food for the feast (6:3). The predicament was that the Apostles had evidently not brought any food along, and neither did the thousands that had followed Jesus to his vacation hideaway.

Anyway, there they were with nothing to eat and no McDonald’s nearby. Jesus asked the Apostles to “go and see” how much food there actually was among the people, and according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke there were just “five loaves and two fishes.” But the Apostle John includes that this small
amount of food all came from one surprising source. “There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?” (6:9).

This detail really makes the story fly. Since flannel graph and Vacation Bible School days I have felt that the main point of this fantastic story is that Jesus can take a little bit and make it go a long way. In
fact, it must be true because Mrs. Leonard my elementary Sunday School teacher said so. And later my Greek teacher, Prof. Elliott, affirmed it as one of the most meaningful miracle stories of Jesus. It is one of the few that is found in all four gospels.

Now, as our story develops, Jesus took the little lunch and blessed it, and broke it into pieces, and it was distributed to everyone. In fact, twelve baskets full were left over; perhaps one basket for each doubting
Apostle. Although the four gospels say that five thousand men were fed on this occasion (later he fed three thousand) somehow the women and children were not counted. My supposition is that if the Palestinian religious community was anything like modern day Methodism in church attendance; if
there were five thousand men, there would have been ten thousand women in attendance, and another five thousand children and youth. Thus, my sermon title. The point is that this was a miracle. It was an intervention of God into time and space, and he changed things. He also changed lives that day
as people experienced a true intervention of the Divine. Many there that day must have understood that if they would willingly give up their little bit, then God would bless and multiply in their lives too. But there was a lad who was willing to give his all.

Yet, unlike the lad who immediately gave up his little bit, many of us have held onto our little barley loaves and fishes for many years. All we had was a little and we have wanted to keep it for ourselves. But then one day we surrendered all to Jesus. An here we are, years later, and we can say that God has blessed us in many ways beyond anything we ever expected. All of you can share in that same experience as we look back at the many ways that the Lord has intervened in our little lives.

Thursday afternoon Mark Barton went on a murderous rampage in Atlanta’s Buckhead financial district seeking revenge against those that he felt had cost him to lose over one hundred thousand dollars as a day trader in stocks. “The love of money is (indeed) the root of all evil.” Thirteen people are dead, and many more injured, because of one man’s love of money. However, whenever we willingly give God first place then money, and every other thing, finds its rightful place.

If we are to understand the idea of miracles in contemporary times, we must realize that it has been God’s plan all along that, “Greater works” than Jesus’ miracles would his followers perform because he has given us the mission of building his Church. (John 14:12). God has empowered us to become
“Little Christs” (C.S. Lewis’ famous term) or, we might call it, “Representatives of Christ” in our own times. Today, we see miracles all around us. The very existence of the Church after two-thousand years, is a miracle. Our hospitals and other church related institutions has saved lives, healed the sick, protected children, cared for the poor, and provided dignified living for senior citizens. God has assisted as believers have been willing to be used to build up and extend His Kingdom. Jesus was one person
and was limited in time and space; however, the continuing miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, has no limits and is everywhere working all the time. This was God’s plan all along.

Right here at this great church we are participating in a modern day miracle as resurgence and new life is beginning to set a great fire from God. As we have been faithful in doing our work, He has multiplied our efforts. Our part in the miracle has not been the major impetus for this beginning miracle. We have mostly sat around in circles and received our barley loaf and little fish, but God has, and will continue to, multiply our efforts beyond ourselves.

And He gives a vision of the future too. Only John included the detail of the response of the well fed 20-K (twenty-thousand). “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” (6:14). In fact, they were so excited that he was aware that they were ready right then and there to crown him king. However, Jesus knew that he must first face the Cross, Death and Resurrection, in order that his work might be completed.

However, since we live on this finished side of the Cross, there is nothing preventing us from crowning him Lord of our lives and surrendering our little bit to his miracle of multiplication for us.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

8/1/99, P10A