As part of our “internship” at our church, Michael and I lead a morning prayer service on Wednesdays. It’s been a good opportunity for us to take turns offering short reflections on the Scripture passage that is read during the service. I wrote this one a few weeks ago, but presented it today. As it turns out, the timing was just right, because it's just what I needed to be reminded of today. The passage was from Matthew 15, when Jesus fed four thousand hungry people with seven loaves of bread (I know, right? Read the story here). Here's an excerpt from what I shared this morning:
The miracles of Jesus sometimes get categorized as random displays of God’s power, sort of like magic tricks he did to prove that He was from God. “See? Jesus multiplied food! He must be who he said he is.” And, I think there’s some truth to that; at the beginning of his ministry Jesus does appeal to his miracles as evidence that He’s the long awaited Messiah. The book of Luke recounts John the Baptist sending messengers asking Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come?” His response is, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised up.” So it’s safe to say that Jesus’s miracles do tell us something about who he is. But I think they do that in more ways than we expect.
This miracle tells us something about who Jesus is. “Jesus called his disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd.” Compassion. Care for the people who came to him with weak bodies, blind eyes, lame legs, empty bellies. It’s his compassion that motivates him to provide against all odds. It’s his love that sees their need and meets it. This story stands alone in expressing Jesus’ character, but it also whispers to us something more. Do these words sound familiar? “He took the loaves and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples.” See, later, Jesus’ compassion would come to full fruition, and again he would again provide against all odds. Only this time, the provision would be himself. “This is my body, broken for you.”
When I think of Jesus’ death and resurrection in light of this story, I like the ending Matthew gives us. “They all ate and were satisfied.” Sometimes as weak and hungry disciples, the extent of our own need weighs heavy on us. We realize how anxious, overwhelmed, wounded and burned out we are. We realize our dysfunction and we wonder, does Jesus have enough for me? Does he really care about my pain and if so, can he really help me? Let this story remind you that Jesus has compassion on you; that he doesn’t despise your weakness, and in fact is unwilling to send you away hungry. Eat and be satisfied. With Jesus, there is always enough.
This year of transition has worn me down-- emotionally, physically, spiritually. The snowball effect has been, at times, despair. Realizations like, "Wow, I've still got a lot to learn," and "I don't know if I have the energy to make it to Christmas" have caused me to wonder, "Does this weakness mean Jesus despises me?" I mean, I kinda "work" for Him now-- doesn't that mean I need to start carrying my own weight? Yet here I am, weak and hungry. Then I read about his response to the crowd and find hope. He knows my weakness (the only surprised one in this situation is me, apparently) and yet He doesn't tell me to "get it together." He has compassion.
What's more, His provision for the crowd started with seven loaves-- a "meal" that made the disciples scratch their heads-- but it ended with seven baskets of leftovers. A little dramatic irony, perhaps? I think so. And yet I'm no better; when I look at the resources it seems God has given to sustain me through this season, I too scratch my head. "How will this be enough to get me through? Don't you realize how needy I am, Jesus!?!?" Oh, me of little faith. I don't know exactly how my story will end this year, but I do know that what was true for the crowd is true for me:
With Jesus, there is always enough.