The Fish and the Loaves

SERMON:  “The Fish and the Loaves”

Scripture: Matthew 14: 13-21

13* ¶ Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

14* As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick.

15* When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

16* Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

17* They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”

18* And he said, “Bring them here to me.”

19* Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

20* And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

John 6: 8-9

8* One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,

9* “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?”

Grace and Peace to you from Our Lord Jesus who is the Christ.

Our gospel lesson this morning is the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5000. We all know the story well as it is found in all 4 of the gospels. And since this story is so familiar to all of us, I would like to approach it from a different perspective this morning. And since it is only in John’s gospel that we have mentioned the little boy with the loaves, I am including that text for this sermon.

I would like you to imagine that you are that little boy with the fish and the loaves.

Your days starts out pretty normally as you are wandering around the hillsides and you see this crowd gathering.

You think:

“Hey, I wonder what is going on? I don’t have anything else better to do, and Mom did make me a lunch of fish and loaves so I don’t have to go home soon, so maybe I will just tag along and see what is happening.”

The little boy follows the crowd as they gather around the shore looking for Jesus. The little boy pushes his way to the front of the crowd so that he can see better. Then he sees this man in a boat get out and begins to talk to the crowd.

The thinks to himself:

“Hey I know who that is, it is the Jesus fellow. I heard him preach once before. I even saw Him heal a few people. Maybe this won’t be such a dull afternoon after all.”

So the boy sits down on the grass and gets comfortable as he listens to Jesus.

Jesus begins to teach the people about the kingdom of God. The boys listens and thinks to himself:

“Jesus is talking about the love of God for all people including me. He is not like those in the temple or our little place of worship that is always telling us what we have to do or what we shouldn’t do. Jesus is telling us that God loves us just the way we are.”

The boy listens some more and thinks to himself:

“Jesus is telling us that He is the Son of Man the saviour and that we should believe in Him and he will give us salvation.”

The boy starts to get a little tired from sitting so he gets up and walks around a bit carrying his basket of food with him.

He sees many people in the crowd we are sick, ill, or who have form of infirmity. Then he sees that Jesus is calling all the people who are sick and ill to come forward. He watches as Jesus heals these people.

And he thinks to himself as he watches:

“This Jesus is really powerful. He can heal the sick and the ill. Why I even heard that He raised someone from the dead. I really am believing that this Jesus is from God.”

The boy starts to walk around some more. He notices some of Jesus’ disciples in the crowd helping people to come forward to get healed. Then he looks to the sky and notices that it is getting late. Why he had not even eaten his lunch in all the excitement of the day.

He looks for a spot to sit down again and thinks:

“Boy am I getting hungry. I am glad that Mom packed this lunch for me. It is now really my supper. But I don’t see any one else eating. Should I go ahead?”

Then the little boy notices Jesus and the disciples talking. He can hear just a few of the words but he understands that the disciples want to send the people away as they have no food to feed them. Then he hears one of the disciples tell Jesus about the boy with the loaves and the fish. And then he sees the disciples coming toward him.

And he thinks to himself:

“Why are they coming to me. I only have 5 small loaves and 2 small fish.” What could they possibly want with those. It cannot feed this whole crowd.”

The disciples come to the little boy and ask him to come with them to see Jesus.

The boy hesitates a moments and thinks to himself:

“What they want me to go see Jesus! Wait till I tell Mom and Dad when I get home that I got to see Jesus up close.”

He walks with the disciples to Jesus and Jesus asks him for his loaves and fish and he thinks to himself:

“Should I give them to Him. What is He going to do with them? I am hungry and I need them. But I do believe that He is the Son of Man the saviour, so maybe He can do something with these fish.”

And the boy says to Jesus and the disciples, “Here take the fish and the loaves.”

The disciples take the fish and the loaves from the boy and they give them to Jesus. Jesus commands the people to sit down and then Jesus turns to heaven and prays.

The boy sits on the grass in front of Jesus and he sees a marvelous thing happen. Jesus breaks the loaves and the fish and hands them to the disciples to give to the people. And Jesus keeps breaking and giving, for what seemed like forever.

The boy thinks to himself:

“This Jesus is amazing. He takes my small lunch and makes it into a meal to feed all these people.”

The disciples finally hand the boy some fish and bread and he eats it all and he even gets seconds. As he is eating, he watches the disciples gather 12 baskets and go about the crowd gathering the left over food.

He is astonished that they even fill these 12 baskets with left over food. All from his small lunch. He sees the disciple give away these baskets of food to the very poorest people in the crowd so that they might have something to eat tomorrow.

As he is watching all of this happen, the boy notices that the crowd is thinning out. Everyone is heading home and he looks toward the sky and sees it is starting to get dark. So he gets up, very full from his supper and starts home.

As he walks home he thinks:

“This has truly been an exciting day. I heard Jesus teach about the kingdom of heaven and I really do believe that he is the one we have all been waiting for. I saw Jesus heal people who had all different kinds of diseases, and then I saw Jesus take my lunch, my small lunch and make it into a meal to feed all those people. I even heard the disciples say that they counted about 5000 men and women in the crowd and Jesus feed them with my small meal and that is not counting all the kids I saw. Wait till I get home and tell Mom and Dad about my day.”

The boy walks home in a hurry for he had great news to tell.

If you had been that boy with the fish and loaves what would you have done? If you had been the disciples and knew there was no food for the crowd what would you have done?

I think that one of the lessons of this story and there are many is a lesson of faith.

The disciples learned about faith in Jesus and Jesus ability to provide for the crowds. The disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds away for they had nothing to feed them with, but Jesus says no and asks them what they do have. They bring the boy and show Jesus the small portion of food the boy had, and Jesus turned that into a great feast.

We need to have faith that Jesus can provide for us.

It is like the following story:

A man owned a little grocery store. It was the week before Christmas, when a tired-looking woman came in and asked for enough food to make a Christmas dinner for her small family. The grocer asked her how much she could spend. “My husband did not come back; he was killed in the War and I have nothing to offer but a little prayer,” she answered.

The storekeeper was not very sentimental nor religious, so he said, half mockingly, “Write it on paper, and I’ll weigh it.”

To his surprise, the woman took a piece of paper from the pocket of her dress and handed it to the man saying, “I wrote it during the night while watching over my sick baby.”

The grocer took the paper before he could recover from his surprise and, because other customers were watching and had heard his remarks, he placed the unread prayer on the weight side of his old-fashioned scales.

Then he began to pile food on the other side; but to his amazement, the scale would not go down.

He became angry and flustered and finally said, “Well, that’s all the scale will hold. Here’s a bag, you will have to put it in yourself. I’m busy.”

With trembling hands the woman filled the bag and through moist eyes expressed her gratitude and departed.

Now that the store was empty of customers, the grocer examined the scales. Yes, they were broken and they had become broken just in time for God to answer the prayer of the woman.

But as the years passed, the grocer often wondered about the incident. Why did the woman come at just the right time? Why had she already written the prayer in such a way as to confuse the grocer so that he did not examine the scales?

The grocer grew older but never saw the woman again. Yet he remembered her more than any of his customers. He came to treasurer the slip of paper upon which the woman’s prayer had been written–simple works, but from a heart of faith, they said, “Please, Lord,give us this day our daily bread.”

The disciple learned about faith in Jesus to provide as Jesus took the loave and fish and provided for the crowd. We too, need to trust in Jesus to provide for us. To ask and to believe in His power.

And that little boy with the loaves and fish had faith enough in Jesus to hand over his lunch even though he was hungry. And he was glad he did, for Jesus gave him much more to eat than those loaves and fish would provide. Jesus gave the boy the power of faith to believe in Him and Jesus gave that boy a very good supper.

As you come forward this morning for communion, you will be eating the body and blood of Christ which will nourish you. You will be eating a meal with faith, faith that Christ is truly present in, around and through the bread and wine. We come to this meal to eat for in that eating we are assured of our forgiveness of sins, we have a foretaste for heaven and we have the promise that Christ goes with us into our everyday world.

Come eat, have faith as the disciples did and as they little boy did. Have faith that Jesus can be with you and provide for you this day.

This message from Pastor Tim Zingale  is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected].  A Pass it On Project