I hope and pray that this letter finds you well. Food is important for us all and many people enjoy catching up with friends and family over a home cooked meal, going out to a restaurant or having a nice picnic. We may have to do these things slightly differently in the future but the principle remains the same. It is good to share food and conversation together. We come this week to a familiar passage from Matthew’s gospel, 14: 13-21, in which Jesus feeds the five thousand. Jesus has had some bad news and so retreats to a quieter place to mourn the loss of his cousin, John the Baptist. Even Jesus needed time to grieve, and spend some time in reflection. We should take comfort from this, knowing that when we go through difficult times, it is okay to take time out to grieve, pause and reflect. When Jesus’ boat lands ashore, a large crowd has gathered and Jesus has compassion on them and heals the sick.
Due to the fact Jesus has gone somewhere remote by boat and the crowds have followed by foot, the disciples are concerned about how all the people assembled are going to be fed. The disciples ask Jesus to send the people away so that they can buy food from nearby villages. Jesus asks the disciples to sort them out themselves. This really is incredible; imagine being a disciple and wondering how to feed all those people, what a challenge! The disciples report that they only have five loaves of broad and two fish.
Jesus asks for the food to be brought to Him and notice in this account it does not say where the food came from. The people are asked to sit and Jesus takes the food, looks up to heaven and blesses it. The food is then distributed by the disciples. Amazingly, all the people are fed and there are twelve baskets of food leftover, more food than there was at the beginning. Furthermore, Matthew clarifies that the figure of those eating was five thousand men excluding the women and the children, so the reality was they could have been much more than five thousand people in total. How incredible is this miracle and what does it teach us?
Firstly, that Jesus is full of compassion has mercy on the people gathered and he helps them by healing the sick. Secondly, he meets their physical needs by feeding them to ensure they are looked after. He is thankful to God by blessing the food and proves to the people that prayer does work. Therefore, we can be thankful we serve an amazing God, exemplified in Jesus, who is capable of doing miraculous things to cater for the needs of the people. So whatever our circumstances we can have confidence in our great God.
May the Lord Jesus Christ; the compassionate and provider bless you, now and always,