July 22, 2018
Speaker: Jason Ho
Passage: Mark 8:1-10
When a baby cries a caregiver will wonder, “Is the baby hungry? Is he/she feeling alright? What does the baby need?” The role of the caregiver doesn’t stray far from providing all the material, mental and even spiritual needs of the baby, much like God’s relationship with us. We talk about spiritual fulfillment all the time concerning our relationship with God but His role in our daily sustenance is arguably just as important.
Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
Jesus performs the miracle of feeding 4000 men and similarly 5000 men in Chapter 6 (Note: back in the days, women and children don’t count. Gender equality wasn’t on the top of their agenda yet). The concept of God, through Jesus, sharing and feeding us food, is a crucial part of building faith and a relationship with Him. In fact, the act of sharing food is more important than the cultural rules set by the Jewish community. The Pharisees gave Jesus a hard time (Mark 2: 15-22) when he shared food with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus precisely heard the people cry in hunger and provided what they needed which was food and material goods.
Jesus is the True Provider
The two miracles in Mark happened in the wilderness. Jesus and his followers were in a desolate area where a man cannot feed their bodies. The disciples were scared and believed the task was impossible and were planning to tell the followers to leave so they can figure out how to feed themselves. These are the natural survival instincts of man. This is the limit of man as a provider. What God can give, is infinitely more.
Moses, in the old testament, led his people into the wilderness under God’s command while fleeing from Egypt and they were starving. God performed a miracle and rained manna from the heavens to feed the hungry people just as Jesus fed thousands of people with a few baskets of bread and fish.
There is something special when we recite the Lord’s prayer, ”Give us this day our daily bread.” This phrase embeds the spirit of God as our material provider. Whether we give in to our human instincts or stick it out with God and trust that He will feed us, that is an internal struggle Jesus is asking us to overcome.
The context of wilderness refers to land that is isolated without food nor resources. It doesn’t have to be a desert. It can happen to anyone in economic hardship, the effects of poverty and feelings of hunger are universal.
Like babies in the bosom of our caregiver, we will cry in hunger from time to time for material and spiritual needs. When that time comes, do we turn away from God or do we trust Him completely to provide all our needs? Each of us has the choice and truly see what our faith is made of.
Priesthood of All Believers
A departure from Moses’ situation is that Jesus didn’t distribute the food by himself or through an act of God. Jesus takes the bread, gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave the bread to the disciples to be distributed to the rest of the followers (Mark 6: 39-44). Disciples clearly aren’t just spectators waiting to be fed by Jesus. When we have decided to be a follower and bear the cross with Jesus. We can also hear the cries of another if we put ourselves in His shoes. Do we share how little we have and extend the same hospitality and provide the same material and spiritual nourishment as Jesus himself has done?
At BMCC, we believe in the priesthood of all believers. It means more than standing on a podium to preach. There is no need to wait for a miracle from God before we play our roles. Not only leaders of the church but any parishioner can all participate in building and maintaining our home.
We maintain this home so we can provide counseling services to the wider LGBTI community and create a safe haven for many others so they can be their true selves. Not all jobs are glamourous at church. We all have to clean the bathroom and take out the trash.
Never forget that every task we do, no matter how small and menial for the church, is a part of building something greater. We are giving meaning and purpose to our lives as well as empowering the lives of others.