It is the nightmare of every event planner, every hostess at a dinner, every UMW president at a church covered dish – running out of food before running out of people. It is the question asked of every pastor at least once in her or his ministry – “can you do what Jesus did with the loaves and the fish?”
And that is the only miracle of Jesus reported in all four gospels – the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Perhaps because not having enough is the universal fear.
I keep a little wooden basket of loaves and fish on my desk. It is a daily reminder to me of the miracle – but not of the one you might think.
The story operates on one level to teach us that where we, like the disciples, see scarcity, God in Jesus sees abundance. Not only does everyone get fed, but there are left overs (every planner’s and hostess’ dream scenario). But I’m not sure that’s the primary miracle. It seems to me that the miracle is that Jesus looked on a crowd “and had compassion.” He felt for them, felt with them and was moved to respond. Without the compassion, the rest of the story is really no big deal to the Word that spoke the whole creation into being. I mean, if you can create aardvarks and hippopotami what’s the big deal about multiplying bread and fish? The miracle, it seems to me, is that Jesus had compassion on the crowd while I am content to let the crowd solve its own problem.
So, I keep the loaves and fish on my desk to remind me that it is seeing what Jesus sees and how Jesus sees (with compassion) that is the call.
We’ll talk about that this Sunday as we look at Matthew’s version of the miracle (Matthew 14:13-21) and we’ll consider what it means that there is “More Than Enough.” Then we will gather with that first crowd as bread is broken and experience the compassion of Jesus ourselves at the Table.
See you Sunday as we break and share bread. There will be plenty for everyone.
Grace and peace.