In this world, we love our enemies because our Father is merciful to them.
We try to recognize truth in places we might not normally look because we might see right past examples of great faith.
We expand our view of who our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers are to include those who hear God’s words and put them into practice.
Christ trying to demonstrate his eschatology. Showing us how he sees the Kingdom of God and how that shapes everything he believes in and does.
When I was getting my undergrad degree at ETBU, I had only 2 classes left to take my last semester and they were both political sciences classes taught by the same prof. The good and bad of it was that he actually expected us to think. The nerve. He actually wanted us to take in information and formulate our opinions of what was happening. See, I had spent 8 years (or so) of high school and college being taught to take in what teachers told me and simply regurgitate them back onto the test page. It got drilled into me to see it that way. So those last 2 classes were quite an experience. Freeing but painful.
It’s kinda the same with the story of the feeding of the 5000. It’s hard to even attempt to view it in a new way after hearing it taught one way so many times for so long.
But as Luke continues to lay out his Gospel, I feel that I am supposed to see deeper.
Not that all our old thoughts on the story need to be thrown out.
-We see Christ’s responsiveness to people’s need, both physical and spiritual.
That should never be something the body of Christ overlooks. A person’s condition in life, the condition of their soul and the condition of their physical well-being, are both important to Jesus.
It is not enough to pray for a person’s redemption and not walk beside them.
It is not enough to alleviate suffering and not point them towards the truth of God.
God using Ezekiel to speak to the bones.
Used the disciples here.
But what’s deeper--
The progression— The disciples see the hungry people–> The disciples tell Christ–> Christ tells them to give them food–> The disciples say “What?”–> Christ takes all the have–> Christ blesses it–> Christ gives it back–> 5000 are fed
The disciples start off well by seeing the need.
Their next response is rational. It’s logical. It makes sense.
Just before this, we see the sending out of the 12 with power. Healing the sick, raising the dead, sharing the truth of the Kingdom of God.
Sent out with no bags, no money, not even an extra tunic. Relying solely on the power of God and his people.
I imagine they were excited to tell Christ about the journey, which seemed to be pretty successful.
But then the crowds come and Christ turns to them.
I guess the disciples tolerated that fairly well. After all, Christ does this a lot. They will have their turn soon. Surely Christ would want to hear the triumphs of the trip, about all the good they did. They were the chosen followers of the Great Rabbi after all.
So the daylight dims and it’s time to wrap it up, the disciples tell Christ to send the people away.
The triumphant students weren’t lowly food servants. Especially not after traveling back all day and being so tired and worn out. Try to picture how much work it would be to feed 5000 men, 12000-15000 people.
Send them away.
When Christ told them to feed the crowd, I don’t think it’s a far stretch to see all of the disciples magnificent faith swallowed up in frustration, hunger, self-pity (Jesus had more and more care for strangers than for them.)
Yet again, Christ has to show them what it means to see out there instead of right here.
The progression is important. It’s how God works today.
We see inadequacy. We see not good enough. We see not enough.
And we are right. It’s inadequate. Our strength, our power, our love, our mercy…
That is why we turn it over to God. Even our “good” things. We give up our very lives, because they are not good enough.
And after giving our lives to God, God blesses them and gives back to us exactly what it is that we need.
Perfected. Adequate. Enough. Just like that bread and fish.
Why? Not for privilege but for purpose. To meet the needs of the people and to point them to the one who blessed us.
The disciples had a hard time seeing the world differently than they had been taught to see it.
They tried to apply their rationalization to it, their logic, their view.
So no wonder they didn’t think it was their job to feed all those people. A little fish and bread ≠ 15000 people.
They believed that they wouldn’t have enough resources or that maybe that they just wouldn’t be good enough at it.
Send them away to their homes, to the inns, to the agencies that Rome has set up to provide for these people.
I mean, that makes sense, right?
And yet, Christ seemed to have none of that.
Christ seems to believe that it is our job to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of people. It seems that the only eternal organism on earth, the body of Christ, the church, has a mandate to do this.
But we don’t have the resources. We don’t have the means. We are not good enough at meet needs. And hey, there are homes and inns and agencies that can take care of people. After all, we only have a little fish and bread. As far as I can see, that isn’t sufficient.
As far as I can see…
Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup.
For centuries, the church has been selling its mandate for much less.
To the point that it doesn’t even seem possible to do otherwise.
It certainly isn’t rational. Or logical to think any other way.
It’s hard for me to think differently than I always have.
But I’m having a hard time of finding ways to justify to myself that I can continue to view the world the same way I always have.
How does my view change when I stop listening to those who tell me this is how it is and start listening to X telling me how he views the Kingdom of God?