Thursday, March 20, 2014
Sermon: Luke 9: 1-17 Feeding the Five Thousand
When you're going to school, what do you need to take with you? You need lots of things, like a school bag, pencil case with pencils and pens, a packed lunch, money, PE kit, and lots of other things as well. How would you be able to get on if you didn't have those things with you? You wouldn't be able to do much, sure you wouldn't?
We've been working our way through Luke's gospel on Sunday mornings. We've seen the sort of things that Jesus was doing - teaching people; healing people; working miracles. There was the healing of the woman and the raising of the dead girl last week.
Back at our January Family Service, we saw how Jesus wants us on his team. He called the disciples to follow him, and we had a football jersey to remind us of being on Jesus' team. Now, here in Luke 9, Jesus sends out his disciples to do what he has been doing - to drive out demons and heal people, to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. (1-2)
As Jesus sends them out, he tells them to bring nothing with them. So what is it he says not to bring? Look at verse 3: 'Take nothing for the journey - no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.' It's a bit like being told to go to school without your school bag and all the rest. How are they going to manage without all these essential tools for the task?
Even though they've been told not to bring any of those things, they still have two things:
1. A message to bring - they are to preach the kingdom, to tell the people in the places they visit that Jesus is king
2. A God to trust - they step out in faith, not bringing all those things because instead they trust in the Lord to provide the things they need: food and lodging. They can't contribute to it, they can only receive, as they share the message freely.
Jesus wants us to do the same - to trust the God who provides for us, and to share the message of the kingdom. Now that may or may not mean that we sell all we have, but it does mean that we trust that God will give us what we need.
The disciples are sent out, and there's such a fuss being raised, everyone is talking about what is happening. Even Herod the tetrarch, the king, is hearing about what's going on. He asks the question - who is this? It's the same question we've been hearing from just about everyone so far in the gospel. Who is Jesus? We'll see the answer more fully next week.
The disciples return to Jesus, and there's a big crowd following them, trying to get close to Jesus. He teaches and heals them. They're glad to be near Jesus. But, you know the way you get home from school and you're really hungry, so you raid the fridge or the biscuit tin? Well the disciples, their tummies start rumbling. It's late afternoon, getting near tea time, and they realise there's nowhere the crowds can be fed. So they tell Jesus to send the crowd away.
Jesus says something which sounds really crazy: 'You give them something to eat.' Ok, so Jesus had called the disciples to be on his team, he had sent them to start doing the things that he has been doing, but this is a bit excessive.
The disciples check their lunchboxes. They only have, well, here's what they had: Five baps (small loaves of bread) and... a tin of tuna. Ok, they had two fish, but I didn't want to stink out the whole church, so the tuna can stay in the tin. Fish sandwiches for tea.
Now imagine that we were going to have a picnic after church. I've got the five baps and the bit of fish. We're all hungry. How much would we each get? There are ... people in church this morning, would we all get enough? Could the Mothers' Union cope with this catering? Even they would be struggling, and I've seen them pull off amazing things in the hall.
Luke tells us that there were 5000 in the crowd. Well, actually, if we look closely, he says there were 5000 men. If there were also women, wives and children, then there could have been nearer 20,000 people. So how much would each person in the crowd get? They might not even smell the bread and the fish. What a little amount for so many. It would be like me trying to give you all a Smartie, but only having a wee box of mini Smarties with just five in it. They're so small, they wouldn't even fill a hole in your tooth. So I might as well just eat them.
But Jesus thanks God, breaks the food up, and passes it to the disciples. They keep going, they keep sharing, and when they're finished, everyone has been fed. Now, did they just get a wee taste? No, it says that everyone was satisfied. They had enough, and more left over. How much? Twelve baskets. What they started with wouldn't have filled one basket, let alone twelve. Yet each of the disciples has his won basket of leftovers. The disciples have fed the crowd because God is the God who provides.
Jesus still calls us to trust in him for what we need. Notice, it's our needs, not our greeds that he meets. He still provides for us, giving us what we need.
Jesus still calls us to share the good news. To tell the people we meet what God has done for us. To talk about how Jesus is the one who gives us what we need.
Will you trust in him?
This sermon was preached at the Church Family Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Sunday 16th March 2014.