Der Vasken's Sermon on July 16, 2017

Jul 18, 2017

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

"We have only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. 'Bring them here to me,' He said, and He directed the people to sit down..." [MT. 14:13-21]

This morning's Bible reading comes from the Gospel of St. Matthew.  It is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible and highlights one of the most well-known miracles in the Bible.  I have made mention before that there are some thirty-five miracles attributed to Jesus Christ throughout the four Gospels.  These miracles are recorded in the Bible on purpose.  Each one stands alone yet each one is connected to all the others.

The people in Biblical days were intrigued by what Jesus said but that wasn't enough for them.  They wanted proof.  They asked Him time after time for signs to prove He was truly the Son of God.  And so, on occasion, He offered the crowds the proof that they sought.  Today, His miracles continue to intrigue people.  They continue to serve as the proof many people search for.  And they also continue to benefit us when we apply their message to our lives.  Today's miracle is more than just a tangible sign.  It's more than an event in the ministry of Christ and His disciples.  Miracles show us the heart and the values and the compassion of God.

Let's take a minute to look at this story.  Jesus had spent the day with the largest crowd of people ever to gather around Him.  They came to hear Him and see Him and maybe even have the chance to touch Him.  He "had compassion on them and healed their sick," it says.  When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, 'Lord, this is an isolated place and the day is now over; the sun is setting.  Send the crowds away to go into the nearby village and buy food for themselves.'"

When Jesus heard His disciples suggest that He "send the people away" to find food for themselves, His response back to them was very clear.  "No one should go away hungry.  They need not go to some other place to find the food they need.  You do something to fulfill their hunger.  You nourish their needs," He said.  But the disciples didn't understand Him and they replied back that they "have only five loaves of bread and two fish."  So Jesus said, "Bring what you have here to me and I will do it."

"Here is all we have," the disciples must have said.  "We received these from a little boy in the crowd--five small loaves of bread and two small fish.  It is not possible to feed this large crowd with only this handful of food," they told Him.  But Jesus handed His disciples a very important lesson on that day.  He taught them that, with God's blessing, five loaves of bread and two fish were enough to fulfill the needs of everyone.  And there were even more baskets left over.  And that's the miracle written about in today's Bible lesson.

So in hearing this very important message of the Bible, ask yourself: What do you have to offer to God?  If you are an organizer or a leader, use your skills to bring people closer to God.  If you have a free hand or free time, use it to pick someone up.  If you have time in your schedule, think about how God can use it.  Because as we hand over these types of gifts to Him, He blesses them.  And as we begin to give Him our gifts, He multiples them and gives them back to us increased in ways we never would have imagined possible.  This is the message of today's miracle.

"We have only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.  "Bring them here to me," He said, and He directed the people to sit down and a great miracle happened.  May we all find a way to turn over our gifts and talents to God so He may bless them as He did in today's Bible story.  And may we all use our gifts to make a difference in the life of other people today and every day because we are all in this together.

Amen.