September 2022 Connection

An Obvious Miracle

When the apostles returned, they described for Jesus what they had done. Taking them with him, Jesus withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds figured it out, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about God’s kingdom, and healed those who were sick…[Jesus said], “You give them something to eat.” But they said, “We have no more than five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all these people.” – Luke 9:10-11, 13 (CEB)
The story of the feeding of the 5,000 found throughout the Gospels is perhaps one of the most well known biblical stories. Throughout generations, this story is told and retold, often focusing on what I like to call “the miracle of the plenty.” Sermon after sermon has been given on the multiplication of the loaves and fishes; Jesus taking what seems like not nearly enough, and turning it into more than enough. Amazing!
But, in reading this version of the miracle story from Luke’s Gospel, I started to ask myself, “why didn’t Luke say more about what this would have been like, to miraculously see more food created?” Surely, someone must have noticed the sudden smorgasbord appear right before them, right?! Then it occurred to me: maybe Luke did! Just not in the details we were paying attention to. In Luke 9:10, Luke shares with us that Jesus retreated from the town where they had just been in ministry, to the town of Bethsaida. It’s not uncommon that, in reading scripture, we skip over names of people and towns we don’t know much about. Often, we’re just glad that we scored a passing grade on pronunciation. But, here, that town’s name is vitally important! In fact, the very mention of Bethsaida might be just the detail we need to know. Why? Because Bethsaida was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee.
Why would that matter?
As they entered Bethsaida, Jesus instructs the disciples to feed the people who had discovered that Jesus came to town – all 5,000 men plus women and children. The disciples question Jesus, in effect saying: “With what food Jesus? All we have is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.” You see the irony? The disciples are complaining that they don’t have enough bread and fish to feed the hungry people, all while standing in Bethsaida…a FISHING VILLAGE!
The disciples were looking only at what they had on hand, and paid no attention to the environment and community in which they found themselves. It’s easy to do that isn’t it? As a church, we often talk about our resources, and we think only of those who are a part of the church – resources of energy, of time, of giving, etc. When we do this, it’s all to easy to throw up our hands and repeat the age-old gripe of churches: “we just don’t have enough.” (It’s probably worth noting that your pastor has said this his fair share of times). What if, instead, we were to include the whole community and environment around us in that evaluation of resources? Would we discover partnerships in the community, eager to help improve the lives of those in our community?  Would we discover donors who are excited about the ministries we are sharing?  Would we stumble upon ministry opportunities, themselves, such as service to the students in our schools? 


If we limit ourselves to only what we already have, we’ll always be staring at not enough.  But, if we’re to open our eyes to what Jesus sees, suddenly the miracle of plenty and the multiplication isn’t that dumbfounding. 

Jesus found fish in a fishing village.

Peace, Pastor Brian

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