Wednesday

“They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’” (vv. 17-18)

Matthew 14:13-21 Wednesday 19 October 2016

Psalm: Psalm 31:1-8


Background

Matthew's Gospel is somewhat vague about precisely what Jesusheard that made him leave and cross over the Sea of Galilee (verse13). Many assume that it was the news of his cousin John the Baptist's execution and that he was withdrawingto grieve. This would make sense. However, the story of John'sdeath could be read as an interlude and that Jesus had heard howstories about him had reached Herod. Maybe he was leaving to escapethe public attention.

Whatever his motivation, he was foiled as the crowd followed himand met him as his boat landed. We can tie ourselves in knotstrying to determine the historical details of the miracle. DidJesus multiply the loaves and fish, or did the disciples'generosity inspire the people to share what they had? Regardless,the importance of the account lies in its deeper significance.

Matthew's Gospel records that it was the disciples whoarticulated the needs of the people (verse 15) and were the ones tooffer their meagre rations (verse 17). Although they could not seehow what they offered could make a difference, Jesus transformedtheir offering into something beyond their imagining. Compared withthe might of the Roman Empire, the early Church would have felt itsresources similarly meagre. What encouragement it must have been tothem to have hope in how Jesus could transform them.

This account also has significance due to its links with HolyCommunion. Every day as Jews broke bread at meal times a blessingwould be said. It is likely that Jesus used those words in thisinstance (verse 19). From the earliest days of the Church ablessing was said over the bread before its breaking and sharing.Just as this bread provided strength to the disciples and all thosewho had come to Jesus, so the bread of Holy Communion is seen toprovide strength for all who receive it.

In this narrative we see Jesus respond to the people withcompassion. This compassion isn't just a feeling of sympathy, itoverflows into action. We notice that Jesus' compassion results inpeople's needs being met.


To Ponder

  • In what ways have you experienced Jesus blessing what youoffer?
  • What is the significance of Holy Communion for you and yourlife of faith?
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