Sunday 26th July 2015 - Proper 12 - Trinty 8
4. 42 - end
Are you paying attention you at the back there?!
I ask, not because I think
anyone is being particularly inattentive this morning, but because
today's Gospel is a story that occurs in every Gospel - Matthew,
Mark, Luke And John (the one we have today) and for something
to happen in every single Gospel it must have been really important
to the formation of the early church. So the feeding of the 5000
was a miracle that we are safe to assume EVERYONE had heard before
It isn't difficult to understand
why... here is a story that can be used to demonstrate the importance
of the Eucharist, the celebratory meal at the heart of Christian
worship. As Jesus takes and blesses and breaks the loaves and
the fishes and then shares them with the people, so the first
disciples and all who have followed since have used these four
actions - taking, blessing, breaking and sharing, to remind us
of the saving action of God. Taking his beloved son; blessing
him at the moment of his birth, his baptism, his transfiguration
and his resurrection; breaking him as he dies on the cross; sharing
his teaching and his very self through the medium of bread and
This is an action too that
links Jesus back to Moses, feeding the people as they journeyed
through the desert on their long journey to the promised land.
Linking him too to Elisha as we heard in our first reading this
morning. Links with at least two great formational prophets for
the Jewish people and reminding us too that God always over-provides.
God is abundant in what he gives us to feed on. He provides not
merely enough, but enough to satisfy our needs and then to leave
... Maybe suggesting that
we should in our turn go and share some of this abundance with
even more people?
God's love for us is never
'just enough' it is profligate, it overflows, it is embarrassing
in its provision - it is meant to teach us what it really means
to be generous with our resources...
So no wonder it was a message
so important that all four Evangelists decided to include it
in their collected stories of Jesus' life and ministry. (And
just to put some context on this, remember that the story of
Jesus' birth - the Nativity - only features in two of the four
gospel accounts and then there are significant differences between
But that is not the end of
the story this morning.... as significant as it is.
John goes on to tell us what
happened next. How the people responded to this wonderful demonstration
of God's overabundance and generosity. Sadly it was not a reaction
to wonder and praise God, but instead they decided that it was
Jesus himself they wanted both to celebrate and to control. They
wanted to make him their king - thinking that if he could feed
an ad hoc crowd at a moment's notice, then he would be the one
to feed a nation that was desperate for leadership in the face
of foreign occupation.
And so Jesus runs away - he
evades capture; he is not going to be made to operate according
to popular demand. He wants to demonstrate a quite different
way of being a king.
And if the disciples had only
had eyes to see him in his true power and wit enough to appreciate
his power being demonstrated over the winds and the waves, they
would have understood that Jesus was working to a different model,
following a different drumbeat. Here was true power - divine
power. Not just earthly power to feed a few people at a picnic,
but a glimpse of the awe-ful, creative power of God himself -
mastering wind and waves; bringing order to chaos.
But no, they cannot grasp the
real significance of the teacher they have among them. Their
only response is fear of the supernatural. Fear of the actual
power of God....
Well perhaps that is understandable.
I doubt that any of us, if exposed to the real, awesome power
and glory of the divine would behave any better!
How often do we too think we
can tame God - make him in our image, to do our bidding? Be
the sort of God - of king - that we want him to be?
Jesus is, indeed, the one who
brings the power and presence of God. The creation obeys him
through whom it was made - unlike us!
But learning to respond appropriately
to our creator is a lifetime's work. To be 'rooted and grounded'
in the love of Christ is to come back to the source of our life.
And as we learn - slowly - to breathe the air of the Holy Spirit,
filling our lungs with it, so we learn what the wind and waves
knew instinctively: that we are made to respond to God and that
- if we only look around us, we will see the evidence of God,
the power of God at work, in all that he has made and remade;
in all he has done and is doing.
Part of us is terrified of
that power - just as the disciples were. If that creative power,
the power of God's abundant and unimaginable love, is unleashed
on the world, and even more frighteningly, is at work in us -
then we are adrift beyond our limits. If we have to see the world
with that amazingly generous love, then we, and the world, will
be forever changed. It is not ours to control, but we could -
perhaps - co-operate?