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August 3, 2014 - Matthew 14.13-21

“Uncovered Dish”

Matthew 14: 13-21

August 3, 2014

 

13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 

“Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!” screams Daffy Duck.  Remember that cartoon?  It’s the one where Hassan tries to chop them up into little bits.  “Hassan Chop!” Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny have made their way into this cave where the hidden treasure of Ali Baba or somebody has been stowed away.  Well, Bugs decides to leave the treasure alone and head for Pismo Beach, but Daffy wants it all.  He has cleared it all out when he notices that he left a little brass lamp behind.  Though it is not worth more than two bits, he decides he will polish it and sell it.  So he rubs the lamp and POOF!  Out comes the Genie of the Lamp.  Daffy then tries to smash the Genie back into the lamp so he won’t steal his treasure, screaming  “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!”  Not a smart thing to do.  Daffy pays the price for his greed by getting turned an itty-bitty black duck.

Though he is just a cartoon, Daffy looks very human here.  Human nature is to get ours and let others fend for themselves.  We feel like if we don’t try to get as much as we can, then we won’t have enough.  It is our nature not to share.  They say the first two words we learn are “Dada and Mama.”  The third is “mine.”

Just look at this scripture.  It is familiar to us.  5 Loaves.  2 Fish.  Little boy with his lunch.    The people are gathered to hear Jesus, and they need to be fed.  The disciples bring this to Jesus’ attention, and he says “YOU feed them.”  They say, “all we have are these 5 loaves and 2 fish.”  Jesus says, “that’ll be fine.”  Jesus blesses it, breaks it and everyone has enough to eat.  Miracle. But though we know this story, what do we really understand about it?

This miracle is really under appreciated.  Not because it was such a great supernatural feat.  David Copperfield could duplicate it, I’m sure.  Well, really, any good caterer probably could too.  And I think that Jesus was a lot more than a supernatural caterer, don’t you?  What is even more important here than the miracle is the lesson we have to learn. 

What if you were that disciple?  Jesus says “YOU feed them.”  I can’t!  I just have my little lunch.  I don’t know how to cook.  I have to go to out if I want Fried Chicken.  We don’t have enough cups.  Billy didn’t make that much tea this week.  I can’t do it!  Jesus then says, “What do you have?”  You tell him.  Then he says, “That will be plenty.”  You see, when Jesus blesses what we give him, it changes things.  We are not alone. 

Contrast with Herod’s meal. (Where Herod beheads John the Baptist.)

The thing is, someone had to give up their lunch, to let go of what they had.  The miracle is God’s, but the resources are human.  If the kid had not given up his lunch, then no one would have been fed.  Just think of what could happen if everyone would do the same thing.

We tend toward an ethics of scarcity, where goods must be accumulated, hoarded, protected and preserved.  Yet God has given us the chance to meet each other’s needs with not just the barest minimum, but with abundance.  It is God’s Grace. 

But it is not just wealth, or money or food that we should consider here.  We are also stingy with our time.  Our effort.  Our energy.  We hoard those things, too. 

What sort of world do we live in?  Is this a world of scarce resources?  Do we all live in the desert?  Don’t even answer that.  Look at what the scripture says here.  They are in the wilderness, the desert.  But Jesus asks them to sit down on the grass.  In Mark, it says the “green grass”.  Since when does the desert have enough green grass to seat thousands of people?  Since Jesus showed up.  Seems that the driest, most parched place in all the earth begins to bloom when Jesus shows up.

An English reporter was interviewing Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  IF you remember, Teresa ran an orphanage there.  The interviewer was asking her about her opposition to abortion. 

“But Mother Teresa, doesn’t it bother you that so many children are born into the world unwanted?”

“Unwanted by whom?” asked Mother Teresa.  “I feel sure that God wants them, for why else would he give us so many, of all different colors, too?”  Do you want children?” she asked the startled reporter who immediately began to look very uncomfortable.

“Well, uh, no, uh, not exactly,” the reporter stammered.

“If you want a child, I can get you a child.  And it would be wonderful for you, who have no child to enjoy, to have a child since you have so much here in Europe, so much that you could share with a child.  Just say the word and I will get you a child.”

End of interview.[1]

We need to stop all them Latinos from coming into our country and taking all the American jobs. (sarcasm)

We need to get rid of all them social programs; they’re a drain on the economy. (sarcasm)

They are gonna raise the minimum wage again?  My biscuits at Hardee’s are just gonna keep costing more and more.  When will it stop? (sarcasm)

I know the church is having a money pinch, but aren’t we all?  And I know that the Nominating Committee is gonna ask me again this year, but I have done my time.  Let someone else do it.  Besides, no one there wants to do things my way no how.

None of us have much - Just a lunch.  But Jesus calls us to recklessly give it up for him.  That way, everyone can have enough – more than enough.

This town used to be segregated, like the entire South.  Black folks were held to menial jobs, and still there are less professional black folks than in other places.  But it used to be that Blacks were just denied the ability to have those kinds of jobs.  “If you let the blacks in here, they’ll take white jobs.”  That’s one way white racism, economic injustice, was justified. 

Ever seen a graph of the economic development of the South?  (I was raised in the South) At the end of the 1960’s and the beginning of the 1970’s, there is a significant jump in the economy of the South.  What happened?  The Civil Rights movement.  After the 1960’s, when Blacks were let into the economy, it began to boom.[2]  Our own selfishness was killing us.

Do you know why if you want something done in the church, you have to go to the busiest people in the church?  People who get things done get more things done.  People who give of their time seem to always have time.  People who are always giving seem to always be getting more out of things.  People that love others have found that it is a renewable resource and never runs out, and that giving actually produces more, rather than depleting the supply.

When will we learn to just trust Jesus?  He has showered us with basket loads of grace, why is it so hard for us to give up our lunch?  When are we going to stop hoarding, and guarding, and protecting what is ours, and act like Jesus – ready to give because it is awesome to give of ourselves.

Where do we want to eat?  At the table of table of Herod or Jesus?  At a banquet or on a hill with people who are sharing what they have?  It is our choice.

 

[1] Willimon, William; Pulpit Resource, p. 22.

[2] Willimon, p. 23.