We continue following the Gospel of Matthew consistent with the international lectionary of the worldwide Christian church. Today we are on the shores of the lake with a very large crowd – at least 10,000 it would seem as the writer only notes ‘five thousand men, besides women and children’ (Matthew 14:21). There is much we can take from this account. A few things include: Jesus fulfilling the desert feedings in the wilderness of the children of Israel (e.g. Exodus 16) and Elisha’s feeding in 2 Kings 4:42-44; the way that Jesus breaks the bread foreshadowing the Lord’s Supper and it’s never ending provision for our journey to eternity; the significance of this miracle as demonstrating another aspect of God’s kingdom whereby the hungry don’t stay unsatisfied; and related to that, the associated importance to Jesus of ensuring the hungry in today’s world are fed. However, today I’m going to focus mainly on what it says about our willingness to do as the Lord asks us even when it looks like there won’t be enough to go around. These are important issues in life and church. Indeed, in all the places he has put us. I hear many people wondering how they’ll cope. Or how they’ll continue. Saying they are empty. Telling me there is not enough. I also hear lots of great ideas, but even more reasons why those ideas would not be viable. It seems that all too often we cut Jesus vision off ‘at the knees’. He clearly thinks we are capable of much more than we do – witness him telling the disciples to give the crowd something to eat and their protest “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish” (Matthew 14:15-17). We forget he is the extra ingredient, or piece, that makes it possible… in family, work, church and society. Therefore, factor Jesus in as the extra ingredient in all he asks us to do!
Matthew 13:1-9,18-23. Today we hear of the Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13. It tells us about the various ways the world receives the word and why sometimes it sticks and often it seems not to stick. It is meant as encouragement both individually for what God’s word can yield in our own lives and also in the world for what it yields in the kingdom. Regardless of the yield, God encourages us not to give up because the yield will be there. But do think about this: is the seed even being sown into your own day to day life and through your words and deeds in the world?
Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 to come to him all who are weary and heavy burdened because they will receive his rest is a well used verse of scriptures. Christians love it for the promise it offers both them and those to whom they bring God’s mission. It’s the sort of thing we see on coffee cups, bumper stickers and even well, this pastor’s ‘business’ card. Peace, quiet, no hassles? Is that what Jesus is promising to deliver here? Today we look into what the rest that Jesus offers really is.
For the next fortnight the epistle reading covers Romans 6 in two parts. Romans 6 tells us about the ongoing role of our baptisms. Baptism is no less than union with the death and resurrection of Christ. This matters, because our sins are left behind in the grave. But what comes after is a new life where sharing his resurrected life we live like that actually matters. So we look to live in God’s way. And we come back in contrition and repentance when we don’t, thereby returning to our baptism. It’s therefore a continual life of grace that we live in, not law, even though the law shows us our need for Christ and directs us in God’s way. “Lord, thank you for giving us the mystery of life in Christ through our baptisms. Through your Spirit lead us to live our lives in committed service to you – true slaves to your righteousness. Amen.”