Eighth Sunday after Trinity
Bible readings – Psalm 17 1-7; Romans
Matthew 14: 13-21
Five loaves and two fish, what would you think if you were offered
that? We don’t tend to do a fresh fish between bread meal. I suppose the nearest would be a fish finger sandwich or one of those Mc Donalds Fillet of Fish, or Sardines on toast. But the people who had been following Jesus were very pleased to sit down
and have it. This is what we are told the crowd had; as there is no mention of a boy in Matthew’s gospel bringing food up.
This miracle is the known as the feeding of the 5,000, but
Matthew tells us that there were many more people, as he mentions women and children, so we could guess at something between 13,00 – 17,000 people were present. I often think of high schools being about 1,000 – so over 10 high schools is a lot
of folks! This miracle was huge, the thought of Jesus speaking to so many people without a PA system, or without being in a stadium is really something, let alone the food. To give you more of an idea, Nottingham Arena holds 10,000; Sheffield 13,600: Birmingham
15,800; O2 20,000. So it was a blessing that they didn’t have to do social distancing!
This miracle shows us of God’s delight in feeding all who have come to wait on him and listen
to him. Could we imagine our Jesus saying, well thanks for coming but this is the tough situation, there is no food; that is not the nature of Jesus, he had compassion on the crowd. Or as Susan Sayers says that is not the nature of God, he sees our commitment,
he sees what we do for him and here we see how people are acknowledged, perhaps many were people who had never met Jesus before, but that did not matter.
They may have come because they had heard
of Jesus’ reputation, they may have come to see the miracles, they may have come with intrigue, with doubts and questions, whatever it was Jesus, made them all feel important; he made them feel at home.
When I looked at this reading it was verse 14 which stood out and spoke to me. ‘He had compassion on them’ (and cured the sick), but the compassion of Jesus did not stop there, he also recognised that someone in the crowd had compassion,
despite they could not feed many of the people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus acknowledged that generous gift; and as a result that person went without nothing that they needed, everyone had their fill. He homed in on that goodness of that person among so
many. We see this in other parts of the bible God acts when he find even a little goodness ( the first I thought of was Lot’s family escaping Sodom), so goodness is recognised even on the smallest scale.
The disciples though, took a different approach; they were being thoughtful when they asked Jesus to send the people away. We can see why they thought this was caring, but Jesus showed how God works with abundant compassion. The disciple’s
action also makes the case for the authenticity of the miracle. You may have heard some people say, once they saw someone donate their food they all went in their bags and pockets and got their own food out. Firstly, it is likely that most people had neither
bags nor pockets at these times! (How many films about Jesus have you seen with bags or pockets?) Secondly, if the people had food with them, the disciples may well have been saying come on now get your food with you, it is time to sit down and
eat, – rather than send them away.
Even if there were a few more with food on them, this miracle shows the compassion of Jesus is for everyone, no matter
what their life style. In a crowd of about 15,000 there must have been people with many different issues in their lives and some who had done virtually everything under the sun, but they were all equally welcomed at this feast provided by Jesus. That is the
compassion that Jesus sends to us now, let us continue to share it.
Alex's working week will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with Tuesday and Thursday off. However there will be some flexibility, as recommended by the Bishop of Derby.