Blessed… Did They Forget Already?

Now Jesus called his disciples and said, “I feel sorry for the crowd because they have been with me for three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry for fear they won’t have enough strength to travel.” His disciples replied, “Where are we going to get enough food in this wilderness to satisfy such a big crowd?” Jesus said, “How much bread do you have?” They responded, “Seven loaves and a few fish.” He told the crowd to sit on the ground.  He took the seven loaves of bread and the fish. After he gave thanks, he broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate until they were full. The disciples collected seven baskets full of leftovers. Four thousand men ate, plus women and children. After dismissing the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan (Matthew 15:32-39, Common English Bible).

It actually seems pretty anti-climactic. With having seen Jesus do more with less just a chapter ago. When Jesus feeds the 5000 plus women and children, he does so with five loaves of bread and two fish. When he feeds the 4000, he does so with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Why tell what seems to be a lesser story after just telling the greater story only one chapter ago?

In the little bit of research that I did on this lesson, I found a few places where the argument is made that the Feeding of the 5000 was Jesus meeting the needs of the Jews. In the Feeding of the 4000 Jesus is meeting the needs of the Gentiles. In telling both stories, Matthew is indicating that Jesus came for all humanity, both Jews and Gentiles.

As I read the lesson for today, however, there was one thing that really struck me. Regardless of other motivation, I think one thing Matthew might be saying is that the disciples needed a refresher course in “Miracles 101.”

As I have already said, only a chapter ago the disciples see Jesus feed more than 5000 people. In this lesson Jesus is saying he fears the people would fall out without giving them something to eat so he doesn’t want to just send them away.

For their part the disciples ask, “Where are we to get enough food to feed all these people (my paraphrase).” They have forgotten something from just a few days before, that Jesus is more than capable of feeding the entire crowd with just a small amount of food. While he may have done more with less at the Feeding of the 5000, feeding 4000 with seven loaves of bread and a few fish is still pretty impressive.

I would love to think that I get everything the first time someone tries to teach it to me, but I know it isn’t true. And, anyone who has ever sat through a math class with me would absolutely back me up on that one. For almost all of us, there are things it takes us more than one time to learn. The disciples would be no different. What happened in chapter 14 was no fluke. Matthew retelling the story is reinforcing what Jesus taught a few days earlier? I can’t help but think that even if this was not the intended benefit, it certainly wasn’t going to hurt anything.

What are some of the lessons God has taught you when it took more than one demonstration?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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