Sermon for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

(This message was presented on a School Sunday when the St Paul's Lutheran Primary School Year 5 class presented a large part of the service)

Text: Mathew 14:15-20
That evening his disciples came to him and said, "It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. Send the people away and let them go to the villages to buy food for themselves." "They don't have to leave," answered Jesus. "You yourselves give them something to eat!" "All we have here are five loaves and two fish," they replied. "Then bring them here to me," Jesus said. He ordered the people to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. Everyone ate and had enough.
St Paul's Year 2s acting out Jesus feeding a large crowd of people

Jesus cares for and feeds 5000 people

Iíve heard that the Year 5s are pretty good at maths Ė doing adding and times sums. Well, Iíve got a few maths problems that you might be able to help me with. Letís see Ė letís start with something easy just to get warmed up.

How many meals do you have a day (not including snacks)?

Now letís use some maths Ė how many meals is that a week? That is 3 X 7.

There are 365 days in a year. Now if you have 3 meals a day that means you would have to time 365 by 3. Who can work that out? (1095 meals in a year)

Now how many snacks do you have a day? This might vary from day to day but letís suppose you have morning tea (recess at school) and say a snack after school. So thatís 3 meals and 2 snacks. How many times do you eat in a year Ė thatís 365 times 5? (Answer 1,825 times a year that you eat a meal or a snack.) Now I would suppose that you might have a few more snacks in a year so letís go to round figures Ė letís say 2,000 times a year you.

How old are you? My guess is that most of you are 10 or just under or just over. Now if you have 2,000 meals and snacks a year, and you are 10 now, how many times have you eaten in your lifetime Ė (thatís 2,000 times 10 which makes 20,000 times).

Who knows how old dad (or mum is)? Letís say they are 30 years old. Thatís 2,000 times 30 which makes 60,000 meals & snacks. Or what if you are 60 years that makes 120,000 meals and snacks. Or if you are 80 years old Ė thatís 160,000 meals.

I think you get the point. What a lot of food!! I wonder if anyone has ever calculated how many kilos of food a 10 year old has eaten since they were born.

Where does all this food come from? Your parents get it from the supermarket. They need money to go to the supermarket so they go to work. Where does the supermarket get all their food Ė from farmers who grow vegetables and fruit and meat, from manufacturers who put meat and vegetables and fruit into tins or packets?

We heard a story before and the year 5s acted it out so well. Jesus gave food to over 5000 people Ė remember there were 5,000 men there that day so I suppose there were quite a few women and children there as well. Letís say that there were more than 5,000 people.

When Jesus saw so many hungry people he could have thrown up his hands in despair. Where was he going to get so much food?

This was a hopeless situation. (I have a biscuits here and I want to share it with everyone here. Letís say there are 200 people here today. How much would each person get? You would hardly feel as if you have had a big meal after you share this biscuit with a hundred people).

Remember Phillip in the story? What did he say? (Where would we get enough money to buy food for all these people?)
All Philip could see was how impossible the task would be.
All Jesus could see were people who needed food. He only saw their need.

We see this kind of thing many times during Jesusí ministry. Others can only see the difficulty of the situation; Jesus can only see human need.
When people tried to shoosh those who called out for help, those hopelessly afflicted with leprosy, blindness, and sicknesses, Jesus could only see their need and laid his hands on them, encouraged them, and healed them.
When people shook their heads in disgust at those sinners who fell at Jesus feet or invited Jesus to dinner, all Jesus could see was their need and he forgave them and encouraged them not to sin any longer.

This miracle story about hungry people who are fed tells us something about Jesus.

This is a story about Jesusí love. Jesus didnít send off all those people to walk across a desert on their way home without first giving them something to eat. His love for them would not allow this. His love even went further and he died on a cross for every one of those people there that day and every other person in the world.
He could not bear to see people like you and me suffer under the weight of our sin,
the guilt our sin causes,
the trouble that our sin creates in our lives,
the problems that our sin causes between us and other people,
the suffering that our sin causes our world.
His love for each of us led him to give his life for us in order to get rid of the suffering and pain that sin causes us and to give us peace and freedom.

After Jesus had fed that great crowd of people, he said, "I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35). What he means is that just as we need food to keep our bodies active and healthy, food that will maintain and restore our health, we also need "the Bread of life", that is Jesus himself, if we want to maintain and restore our life with God and maintain and rebuild healthy relationships with others.

In fact, it doesnít matter what kind of hopeless situation we might find ourselves in Ė a bad report from your doctor,
a disagreement between friends,
the death of someone special,
Jesus is the Bread of life who loves us and is waiting to help us.

We all have our own story to tell of some kind of helplessness in our lives, but whatever it might be, Jesus sees it. When it seems that all the human effort in the world will not be able to help us, Jesus is there for us. Just as Jesus came to the rescue of so many people during his time on this earth, including feeding more than 10,000 hungry people until they were satisfied, so also he comes to us in our time of need. He invites us to call on him with any need that we might have and he promises to be there to help us.

There is another part of this story that I want to briefly mention (the children have already done this in their drama). God can use small things to do great things. Take that small boy's lunch. Not much really amongst so many. Five small barley loaves and two small fish - and I emphasise the word "small" here. And yet in spite of the smallness of what Jesus had to work with, look what happened - over 5,000 people were fed. In the hands of the Lord, a little is always more than enough.

We may feel we have very little to offer Jesus.
We may think that we have few talents and abilities for service to others.
We may feel that the amount of time that we can spend with people who need help and encouragement is so small.
We feel discouraged because the efforts we have made have brought so little results.
We feel that the love we have shown has been has been anything but adequate.
We may think that our contribution to our school and church is hardly worth mentioning.

But you know, Jesus can take small things and make them into something significant and worthwhile. He can take your words and your actions no matter insignificant you may think they are, and use them to make a powerful and positive effect in someoneís life.

Don't think that your act of kindness is too small and insignificant to affect anyone, your smile, your attitude, your help or whatever. In the hands of the Master, they are transformed. If he can use five small barley loaves and two small fish and feed over 5,000 people, surely he can use our simple acts and words to do wonderful things for others and for the glory of God.

Pastor Vince Gerhardy

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Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the Good News Bible, © American Bible Society, revised Australian edition 1994.
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