Today’s Word: ‘Sharing’ … as in who really fed all those people and was there are more powerful miracle that we usually miss?
Smack-dab in the middle of Matthew’s account of Jesus’s life and ministry, he writes a story about a large group of very hungry people, some fish and some bread. It’s also a story about a small group of followers; Jesus’s disciples who are about to have their mental furniture rearranged.
“You give them something to eat!” Jesus says.
“What?” they respond. “Too many! Too late! Not enough of this! Too little of that!”
I grew up hearing the story of the feeding of the 5000 a couple times each year when it came around in the schedule of readings and preaching from both Matthew and Luke. Each time the conclusion was the same: there was a big need, the disciples were thinking too small, and Jesus does the miracle himself. He snaps his fingers, wiggles his nose, recites a couple lines from a communion service, and boom! Food for everyone. With left overs.
It seemed like all we were doing was cheering Jesus on! “He did it again! That rabbi, I’m telling you, man, he’s just crushin’ it!”
At some point I began to wonder, though, if maybe I had the miracle all wrong. Maybe the real miracle was having all of those hungry people seeing the need all around them and digging into their backpacks, bags and pockets they shared everything they had with others until all “ate and were filled.” It seemed like that was the thing Jesus was teaching all along. Not “here, let me do it for you!” but rather, “Here, you’ve got what you need to do this!” And when they did that, they actually had a lot left over. Twelve baskets full of left overs. Hmmm. 12… a poignant and powerful number. But not as poignant and powerful as the number of people fed and satisfied by a bigger miracle taking place that day: sharing.
Maybe the real miracle is when people discover and respond to the needs of someone sitting right next to them.