Friday, August 11, 2017

He Took - He Blessed - He Broke - He Gave!

August 6, 2017
Fr. Phil Eberhart

Mt 14 - Jesus Feeds the 5,000

He Took - He Blessed - He Broke - He Gave!


Have you ever noticed how Jesus is constantly challenging the disciples to come along, to get on board, to "do something, even if it's wrong ( and it was, most of the time ) !!

In today's Gospel reading from the middle of Matthew 14 we see the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  God's miraculous provision!  

I've preached on the school boy's lunch before - the one who was willing to give up what he had - and the disciples' reaction when they calculated the lunch they had against the need.  Their reaction was actually very reasonable:   "what is this for so many?"  That comment we read in the Gospel of John.  There are accounts in each of the 4 gospels about this!  This was a big deal.

Our theme this morning is God's faithfulness to love and to provide for His people.  We heard it in the Nehemiah reading, certainly in the Romans reading and here again from the Gospel.  

God loves you - with an unfailing, everlasting love that nothing can ever separate you from!  God's provision is based on that love, not on your fickle, fading love for Him - not on the circumstances you face - not even on the provisions you have at hand!  Especially NOT on the provisions that you can provide in your own power!

All we have to offer Jesus, is what we have -  five loaves and two fish - a school boys sack lunch from home!  When we measure that, as the disciples did, reasonably, against the need of upwards of 5000, some estimate with women and children, could have actually been 15,000 or more:  What is this five loaves and two fish for so many mouths?  (You can't be serious, Lord!??)

But Jesus persists,  every Gospel echos the same scenario.  Jesus is aware of the need, in fact in John's account, Jesus is the one who asks of the disciples, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?"  John adds, "He said this to test (Philip) him, for he himself knew what he would do."

I love that!  Jesus knew what He was doing!  What a revelation!  God has the plan all worked out... but,  he wants us to be a part of that plan. So He invites us into the problem and seeks a solution from us?  

Philip's answer after calculating in his head that 200 denarii is about what it would take - (a denarius was equivalent to a full days wage)
200 was almost a full year's wages for a worker!

So at 15/hr times 8 hours, a day's wage on the low side today is $120.00 x 200 = $ 24,000.00.  Even today at the low end, that "a lot of bread!"  

So I want to continue to do the math, so let's say that 5 loaves and 2 fish, a sack lunch, was worth 10 dollars.  So $10 is what the boy gave to Jesus, willingly at Andrew's request.

At the end they gathered up 12 baskets full of bread and fish!  We have no idea what size the baskets were - in my mind I can see the school boy coming home with 12 guys each carrying a basket - hmmmmm,  maybe the twelve disciples.

And there is the picture that I want you to take away today.

We have the opportunity to carry the overflow of God's generosity, of God's multiplication of our small resources, to a world that is starving and wanting something to eat - real food, real drink!  Which brings me to the last point.


Let's look for a moment a Jesus action here:

Jesus invited and challenged the disciples to be a part of the answer, a part of His plan.
John tells us he was testing them in this.  Ever felt "tested" in this?  Financial provision, Job provision, Spouse provision, House provision, Church provision?

Lord, how are we going to do what You are asking us to do?

Jesus answer is "bring me what you have!"  Fortunately for us, the provision of God is not based on what we have, but on What HE HAS!
And on His willingness to be a part of the solution!  The reading from Nehemiah this morning and the one from Romans tells us what?
God is willing!  God is faithful, even in the face of our unfaithfulness and unbelief, even in the face of our idolatry!  God is faithful to us who love Him, ... what did Paul say?

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And listen to how JB Phillips puts this last phrase from Paul:

We hold, in Christ, an impregnable position

38-39 I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!

God's love and God's provision are constant friends.  Nothing we go through can separate us from His love, and the stuff we go through is NOT a sign of His love waning or going away from us.  Sometimes God is simply testing us to see if we know how to lean into HIM - to see how quickly we can calculate in our heads that the day's meal for the crowd is going to cost 24,000 dollars!  Might as well be 24 million!  All we have is five loaves and two fish to offer to Jesus!  And that is all He needs! It's all He requires!!  It's enough.

And then He does what he does!  He blesses - He breaks - He gives.  Dr. Robert Weber, former professor at Wheaton and a champion of an evangelical understanding of the movement of Eucharistic liturgy, held up these three movements, actually four, he added TAKE to the beginning.   God receives what we give him (He TAKES it),  God adds His blessing to what we give (God BLESSES it),  God breaks what we give him (God BREAKS it), let's stop here for a moment: 

What is it with God breaking?  

    Ps 51:17
                                The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and 
                                 contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

I will never forget the time Aly, at age 5, came home from pre-school and told us, "I know about God!"   "Really?"  We said, "What do you know about God.  "God breaks your heart, and crawls inside, so He can live there!"   We wept and said, "You really do know about God!"

We offer Him what we have and he does what He does with everything in our lives:

He takes it (and you)

He blesses it (And you).

He breaks it  (and you). 

He gives it  (and you, away)!  

Shall we pray...

Our God and Father, you are the One who loves us and provides for us, from our very breath to the homes we live in and the food on our tables.  You invite us into the adventure of loving You and living for You, in this world, on Your behalf.  Lord, where we like Israel in the desert, are continually faithless and testing you, forgive us!  Do not leave us!  Do not take your Holy Spirit from us!  You are faithful and filled with loving kindness and unfailing love.  You are Jehovah Jireh, our provider.  We acknowledge you this morning as such, and offer to You, Jesus, our 5 loaves and our 2 fish.  Take and Bless what we offer to you,  Break it and Give it.  Let us be a part of Your plan and let us see Your provision along the way.  We love you, Lord, and trust You for all our needs.  You are our All in All.
In your mighty name we pray, Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.