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  • Writer's pictureGWL



Philippians 2:1-11

Psalm 145:8-9;14-21

Matthew 14:13-21 (main text)

What a wonderful story - Jesus feeding the multitudes with 5 loaves and two fish! It’s, no doubt, one of the best known stories in the New Testament... handed down to us by all 4 Gospel writers... and there’s lots to be learned from Jesus’ in these words...

Surely we could talk for a while about the Disciples’ attitude towards people in need. I mean, those of us here in this place are modern day disciples... we’re concerned about the hungry and needy... but like Jesus’ Disciples we sometimes feel powerless, helpless to do anything about it.

Or we could discuss the generosity of the young boy (as John’s Gospel tells us) who gave what little he had to Jesus. That’s a valid and needed lesson from this story. It reminds us that “little is much with God is in it!”

We could even talk about - and learn from - Jesus’ ability to supply the needs of the hungry with plenty left over. Maybe the significance of the 12 baskets left after feeding the multitude - is to remind us - that when we obey Christ in serving the needs of others, there’s plenty left for us? 12 baskets, 12 disciples?

But today I want us to think, for just a few moments, about one word from this story... that word is “broke” - as in Jesus broke the bread.

When the loaves and fish were given to Jesus - he took what was offered (as insignificant as it seemed)... and he blessed it... which is important: blessings involve breath, to “speak a blessing” requires words... forming words requires air to move from our lungs through our vocal cords and out of our mouths! Breath... the Greek word for “breath” and “spirit” are one in the same: it’s pneuma. In blessing the bread, Jesus was somehow, someway, empowering the physical with the spiritual. Reminding us that the breath of God brings life, the pneuma brings life to the lifeless. So Jesus’ blesses or breathes life into the bread... and then he began to break the bread... and just kept breaking the bread... until there was plenty for everyone to be filled, with plenty left over. It was miracle.

Honestly, there are times when we’re not quite so sure what to think about miracles, right? I mean, we say we believe God’s Word. We read stories like this and we give a nod and a wink, and we move on. Never truly embracing the power of the miracle, or the reality of the miracle... never really believing such a miracle could ever happen in our presence, or our day. Kinda like Thomas Jefferson did with the Jeffersonian Bible, he just skipped over all the “Miracle stuff” to focus on the teaching of Jesus. But then, don’t we do the same when we fail to live in expectation of the miracles having an impact on our lives, on our living... now... today... this very moment.

We also don’t like to talk about being broken much anymore. Or maybe, we just don’t like to acknowledge it. Maybe because so many of us already feel broken... we’re not so interested in hearing that God will break us to use us.

But this is an important part of the process of being used as part of Jesus’ ministry. If Jesus had never broken the loaves they would’ve never been distributed to the crowd. So, it stands to reason that in order to be useful instruments, for God’s kingdom, we must be broken, too.

+The gathered crowd was broken in submission before Jesus when he commanded them to sit!

+The young boy was “broken” when he surrendered his food, his bread, for others.

+The Disciples were broken when Jesus called out their negative view about what could be done to help others.

Our pride, our self-reliance, our willful independence must be broken... it must be brought into submission before Christ IF we ever hope be useful, beneficial disciples!

It’s only when we are broken, humble, submissive before the Lord, looking to Christ and Christ alone, only then can we be fully used by God.

Once we are broken, miracles happen! Jesus transforms our brokeness into bounty... into plenty... into fullness.

Some people have the mistaken concept, or understanding, that being saved is the sum total of the Christian life. Of course, it’s a very important part, an indispensable part, the beginning of the Christian life. But Jesus didn't save us for us to sit around on our haunches and watch him to all the work! As Jesus broke the bread, he gave it to his Disciples - for them - to feed the crowd. For them to be active participants in the ministry.

And Christ has redeemed us, in order that we would follow him, and be like Him. And to imitate Jesus, as we do the things Jesus did!

Jesus loved, He healed, He taught, He listened... and above all, Jesus was broken, was he not!? Jesus was obedient unto death, even death on a cross! He was willing to literally be broken for us... and he calls us to do no less.

I’m obviously not Japanese, but there’s a Japanese art-form called “Kintsugi” - where gold dust (or the dust of some other precious metal) is mixed with glue to repair broken china... like plates and bowls. The word literally means “golden joinery” - the cracks become prominent and desired features that make each vessel unique... and sought after... in other words, the bowl or plate becomes even more valuable after being broken.

Much like the 5 loaves of bread that became enough to feed a multitude, after being broken... or like Jesus’ broken body became the most extravagant and valuable gift in the history of creation. A gift that literally purchased our salvation.

I honestly think at least part of the Church’s problem today, is our resistance to being broken and renewed by Christ. We resist being broken because we see ourselves as useful or sufficient already. We resist being broken... we persist in our pride, and continue on without the power... without the pneuma - the breath, the Spirit - of Christ that empowers us, and truly makes us whole.

The truth is, Jesus accepts us, like the little boy’s lunch, just as we are... but he has no intention of leaving us that way. And he will bless you...He will love you... He will forgive you... and he will break you... ALL THE WHILE restoring you, making you more valuable, more precious, more useful, than you could ever hope or even imagine. As you follow him as a disciple you will learn. You will learn that the way to be First is to be last, the way to be free is to be yoked... the way to be whole is to be broken.

Give Jesus what little you have: yourself. And let him transform you into more than enough... Amen.

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