Feeding the 5,000
Bible Text: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a; Psalm 78:23-29; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:1-21 | Preacher: Rev Andrea De Vaal Horciu
A sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. Inaugural Family Service.
Does anybody recognize this symbol?
It’s the symbol for McDonalds.
We have just recently travelled to the UK on the way there my son, Josh, had McDonalds up to 4 times in one day. This was because he knew exactly what he was eating and recognised the food instantly. I am sure this is the case for many kids.
The first McDonalds opened in 1940.
It’s the largest owner of retail property in the world. How many restaurants do you think there are? Have a guess? Over 36,000 in the whole world.
The article I read said “Is there anything more universal than McDonald’s?” Their answer: “No. The golden arches are the most recognized symbol in the whole world. The restaurant provides food for people in 119 countries.”
Do you think that all those countries would recognise what this is? It is beautiful and has just been made for this service.
It is called a crucifix, it is the symbol of the cross. The cross is important to us as it reminds us of the love God has for each of us. God loved us so much that he gave his one and only son to die for us on the cross. We understand through scripture that the meaning of the cross is much deeper than just a symbol or outward sign. Everywhere you go the Golden Arches are unmistakable. The moment you see them – you know what they stand for. My hope for you is that in time you will learn more about the cross and the love it represents.
Today I am going to tell you another story about food, it’s not about Maccas. This story is in all four Gospels in the Bible. Four of Jesus’ friends thought this story was so important that all of them recorded it. In the Bible, it is said that they had enough food for 5,000 men, and that is not counting the women and children. It took place on a hillside just off the shores of the Sea of Galilee. So, they were at the seaside and I am sure it was very beautiful. We have just been on retreat and that was a forest then a beach, the story tells us that there was lots of grass for the people to sit. The people came to see Jesus, that’s who the story was about, Jesus and his miracles.
Word of Jesus’ miracles and life-changing teaching was spreading and many people came — he was becoming something of a celebrity. One day, on this hillside near the beautiful Sea of Galilee, a massive crowd of more than 5,000 people came, and they gathered to hear the wonderful teachings of Jesus. But all of these people would soon be hungry and there was no way to feed them all. Andrew, one of Jesus’ disciples, found a young boy in the crowd who had food. He had just five loaves and two fish. Miraculously, Jesus multiplied the small meal into a feast for thousands, with 12 baskets of leftover food. Jesus knew what the people needed. Through this amazing miracle, he demonstrated that he could provide for so many people.
Jesus performed amazing miracles for many people. He prayed for people to hear and see again, helped people walk, and even raised people from the dead! Today’s story is an amazing miracle where Jesus fed over 5,000 people — with just one little boy’s lunch basket.
Because Jesus was doing miracles, all these people followed him wherever he went. Jesus and the disciples must have thought, “Can these people give us space and a time of rest?” For Jesus this would have been the time he wouldn’t just have rested but would have prayed as well.
I know many of you are retired and feel you are as busy now as you were before you were retired. It doesn’t matter what age we are, all of us can have things that crowd us. As one writer put it, we live in a world of a million choices, a disillusioned world that is restless and impatient. (from The Preaching Life: Celebrating God’s Presence in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor).
Some of you are taking a break or relaxation day, or even a holiday. In a sense this story is saying take a break and rest, don’t feel guilty to take time to be with Jesus. The whole crowd sat down and rested and listened to Jesus. We all need to take a break from the demands of the world and the problems we face.
I believe that’s what attracted the crowds and why they kept following Jesus. Jesus kept turning problems into opportunities, just like when he feeds the 5,000.
Watching Jesus healing someone or performing a miracle must have been amazing. Do any of you guys have YouTube or Facebook that you watch important things on? The people in those days didn’t have YouTube or Facebook or tv or replays. They experienced life as it was then. I could imagine the crowd was thinking, “Wow! What will happen next?”
I want you all to challenge yourselves as we come together as a church today just as those people did all those years ago. Do we come with the same thought, “What is Jesus going to do today?” Do we come like that crowd with expectation? Have you come to church today with an expectation of what Jesus will do?
Did you pray today: “Lord speak to me, Lord bless others, Lord touch my mind”? God may speak to you through a lovely person sitting next to you or someone you meet for the first time or may be even through a child. And you think Wow! God has spoken to me because I have taken time and space to listen.
Do we have that expectation GOD will meet us, if we pray “God be with me”?
I believe God will answer that prayer if we will just take time to pray and expect him to be in your week ahead as you go to work or school or about your daily activities. Have you that expectation? Like that crowd that day they had an expectation to meet and see Jesus.
I wrote this before I went to England and two weeks before I left I looked at my diary and said, “Lord this is an exhausting two weeks ahead of me. I can’t possibly do all of this”. But I took time every day to ask God to be in my day, and it was ok. Things were a blessing, and everything got done and I found joy in what I did, and I loved all of what I did because God was in it. Why was this?
It was because I committed it all to God. I expected him to help me and be with me in the whole of my day. I had a disbelief each day thinking I can’t do all of this, but I had a sense of God saying, “Oh yes you can. You can do it with me. It’s not all about you Andrea, it’s about me and my work”. Serving God every day is my most important job, and I can do it with Him.
With Jesus we can get through the day and we need to depend on him.
So, what does Jesus do?
Jesus says, “Everyone is hungry. Let me give them what they need.”
Let’s look at what happened next.
What does Philip say? Well Philip was a little bit like me when I looked at my diary and the situation seemed hopeless. That is exactly what Philip does. He looks at their meagre resources and wonders, “What can we do? We can’t do anything!”
How often are we like that?
I wonder how many of us are like Andrew. Andrew is different – he puts a model before us of how we bring a problem to Jesus and He turns it into an opportunity. Andrew sees what he can do, and he gives it to Jesus to do the rest. That has been my learning again and again and again. Jesus is there, and I have to trust in him in all things.
If you can think of your week gone, can you think of something Jesus has been teaching you or ways He has been with you this week?
We hear in the story Andrew brings a young boy to Jesus with his lunch. By bringing him he makes the miracle possible.
The boy is the best example of them all. He didn’t have much, but he gave what he had, and Jesus used it wonderfully. And here is the message, even our smallest of gifts can fulfil a need and be brought to Jesus to help many others. I wonder what you can bring today. It may not be a basket of food. It might be something that you can do. Can you think what gifts they might be?
It may not be much, but Jesus needs all our gifts because he is looking for human beings to partner with him and to bring his kingdom of love, mercy and justice to our broken world. We need to partner with Jesus to do this!
The gifts he gives each of us are unique, and the world maybe missing out on everyday miracles if we don’t share them. Miracles may be missed because we need to share what we have, and who we are with others through the love of God. Let’s always offer what we have and are, to each other and to Jesus.
Wrapping up I want you to remember that, little is always much in the hands of Jesus. And when you see the golden arches, let me encourage you to remember the cross and this amazing story of Jesus and the little boy, and consider what your gifts are and how you can share them with Jesus and with others.