Sunday, March 11, 2007
How Did Jesus Feed the Hungry?
After preaching this morning at the Presbyterian Church, I preached a differen message at the United Methodist Church on the "Feeding of the 5,000" from John 6: 1-13
The Feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus recorded on all four Gospels. Among other truths, it illustrates the principle of spiritual multiplication: “little is much when God is in it.”
As the Jewish Passover Feast drew near, Jesus was going about doing what he did for a living. He was an itinerant evangelist, prophet, teacher and healer. He performed miracles as signs of his spiritual authority and mission as Messiah. He wasn’t in the business of humanitarian assistance or food aid. He did not run an NGO. He was a popular Rabbi.
Great crowds came to hear him preach. The crowd stayed so late one day, they were hungry. “Where shall we buy food for these people to eat?” Jesus asked his disciples. Philip answered him: “It would take eight months wages.” Although he did not have the means to feed them, Jesus had compassion on the crowd. To perform the miracle of feeding such a crowd, he called forth the resources from the crowd. Andrew said: “Here is a boy with five small loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Remember the principle of spiritual multiplication: “Little is much when God is in it.”
5 loaves + 2 fish = 7 food products. Seven is God’s perfect number. It would be enough.
Although he did not do professional relief and development work (as CitiHope and other NGO’s do), Jesus had the people sit down in rows and fed them (similar to what is done in the refugee camps, feeding stations and orphan care centers in Africa).
Then Jesus took the bread the boy had offered, gave thanks, and distributed to those that were seated on the grass. He did the same with the fist. There were about 5,000 men who were fed, and there was enough food left over to fill 12 baskets (6:11-13).
CitiHope currently is feeding 10,000 orphans and other hungry Malawians who have come to rely on our food aid. But we need to feed hungry people the way Jesus did: by calling forth their resources, not just focusing on their obvious needs. The miracle he performed that day was not just the magic of multiplication but the example of sharing and offering to God what little you think you have so that God can leverage the resources to meet the need with plenty to spare.
This is exactly want we are doing in our partnership with the Methodist Church of Mzuzu. You are growing the maize in back of this church structure. We are providing nutritional supplements. You are taking in orphans and abandoned children who cannot fend for themselves or afford to go to school. We are supplying their school supplies and paying their tuition. Together we are developing a Hope Home which eventually will be self-sustaining. Don’t call it food aid. That’s not our vocation. We’re feeding hungry people the way Jesus did as a Teacher. By calling forth the resources in the crowd and leveraging what is offered and shared. “Little is much when God is in it.”