Isaiah 55:1-5; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21
Isaiah’s scripture is the “Invitation to the Thirsty,” which reminds me of when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. “Come to all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” What is this being offered, that is free? It is salvation, offered to all at no cost. God calls all to receive His free grace, and only God’s salvation truly satisfies. God renews His promise of Messiah, a promise issuing from His covenant love for His people.
God pursues His people, desiring to do good for them. When people respond to His call by responding in commitment and faith, He promises to be their God. God wants to make an everlasting covenant relationship with each individual. This everlasting relationship indicates God’s desire that all people belong to Him forever. Every person receives the same assurance David had of God’s faithful love. By receiving this assurance, beloved, we also received the commission to witness to all nations.
The Holy Spirit guides the Christian conscience in knowledge and emotion. Paul felt a great personal anguish because most Jews were not accepting Christ. He feared his readers would see his anguished claims as self-serving and not reflecting his true feelings. Therefore he took an oath that his conscience confirmed his anguish. Conscience may mislead, for some people have consciences which have been “seared as with a hot iron.” Paul’s conscience was trustworthy because he submitted it to the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Spirit provided his conscience with very definite guidance. It affirmed what he wrote was true and what he felt was right. Our conscience can guide us when we live in the Spirit. This is available to us all, as Christians.
Paul was concerned that the conversion of the Jewish people might be impeded by him, that he was willing to be separated from Christ, if that would somehow effect the Jewish people’s salvation. This is like the Spirit of Moses (Exodus 32:31-32). Meaning love—-love so deep it brings sorrow and anguish. Such love motivates to effective evangelism. In Romans 9:3 Paul states: “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race.” The word “wish” in Greek is euchomai, and it literally means “pray.” He used this term to indicate the intensity of his yearning for his Jewish brothers. Such intensity marks Christian faith and prayer.
This leads us to the Gospel message today, from Matthew 14:13-21, noted as “Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand, though I usually refer to the feeding of the multitudes, as the 5,000 does not include women and children which are excluded from the count. Jesus was traveling around the countryside, preaching and healing, wherever He went, when John the Baptist’s disciples caught up with Him to give Him the news that John had been beheaded and his head placed on a silver platter and given to the daughter of Herod’s wife, who in turn gave the platter to her mother.
Jesus’s humanness is revealed here, as he hears the news and he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place, I suspect to mourn His kinsman. The crowd must have heard about this and they began to move to follow Him on foot from the towns. It doesn’t give us a timeline, but when Jesus’ boat landed a large crowd was waiting for Him and He had compassion on them and began healing the sick.
The disciples approached Him as evening was coming over them, that they needed to send the crowds away, for the people to be able to buy something to eat from surrounding villages. Jesus replied to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat!” I don’t know about you, but I suspect Jesus already had a plan, but first, let’s put the disciples on the spot. Their answer was, “We have here only five loaves of break and two fish.” Jesus’ reply was, “Bring them here to me.”
The people were directed to sit down on the grass. He took the fie loaves and two fish and looking p to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Note, they didn’t just get a morsel of food each, they all ate until they were satisfied.
The disciples then picked up 12 baskets full of broken pieces that were left over. They had fed the 5,000 men and untold numbers of women and children. I suspect that if 10,000 people had been there, they would still have picked up leftovers, because this is the kind of God that “pursues His people,” He is committed to be in a “covenant relationship” with each of His people, and we in turn, have “committed to Him to be a witness to all the nations. Because God has give us the “Holy Spirit,” to guide us in wisdom, we are led to do His will in response to His love and commitment to us.
When Jesus looked upon the crowd waiting on Him, He had compassion on them and immediately began to heal and preach and teach them, and His final act in this message was that He fed them until they were satisfied. He didn’t send them away hungry for His healing, His teaching, and His love. Instead, He poured out all of that in abundance. He still does, beloved, and He is still move to compassion on us, even when we fail Him. He loves us enough to forgive and forget our failures, but is quick join us in our successes. Turn always to Him as the people did, in expectation of miraculous encounter, as He did that day on the hillside. Amen