Pentecost 10

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The account in Matthew 14:13-21 of a miraculous feeding is well known and much celebrated. People of all ages cured and people of all ages fed. From very little, to great abundance. From desperation, “What are we going to do?”, to satisfaction – “Wow! There’s even food left over.” An amazing picture of God’s compassion and God’s provision shown through Jesus.

What is often overlooked – or at least skipped over very quickly – is the setting. The passage begins with the devastating news of the death of John the Baptist. Jesus seeks to withdraw from public view, presumably to grieve but perhaps also for preservation. However, the crowd follows, grace is displayed, many are healed and all are fed. A miracle of abundant life in the shadow of death.

In the incredible (barely credible for some?) story of the feeding of 5,000 blokes – plus women, plus children – the miraculous outcome is preceded by significant doubt. To be fair to the Disciples, such doubt was not necessarily unreasonable given the overwhelming nature of the situation they were facing – so many people, so little food! Yet, despite their lack of confidence, through Jesus God was able to address the situation in ways beyond their imagining. By God’s grace and God’s power there was more than enough!

Whilst there is plenty to wonder about in any Bible passage, miracles in particular prompt a wide variety of questions and, arguably, an even wider array of possible responses. Especially in the intergenerational context, be encouraged to embrace the joy of wondering, the delight in coming up with potentially crazy ideas and the fun of doing all this together. At the same time (metaphorically, rather than literally) don’t be afraid to actually spend time together as a community in wrestling with the actual text, grappling with how it should be interpreted today and prayerfully discerning how to actually respond.

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Written and Compiled by

Chris Barnett

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