Something From Nothing

July 29, 2018

Something From Nothing
Matthew 17:14-20 
John 6:1-14

 

 

God has a way of taking what seems to be insufficient (or less than enough), and making it sufficient (or more than enough). God is proficient in providing something, out of nothing!

 

I think we’re often tempted to “read-over” some of the miracle stories in the Old & New Testaments without giving them much credence!  I mean, we’re practical people who live in a practical world... and we’ve seldom, if ever, seen miracles like the ones described in the pages of God’s Word.

 

And many of the miracle stories (biblical stories of deliverance and salvation) seem pretty imaginative.  One family among millions delivered from a great flood in an Ark.  A sea parting as scores of people walk across it on dry land to safety. A young shepherd boy taking down a seasoned military commander - a giant - with a homemade slingshot.  

 

People walking on water?  Someone crippled from birth, suddenly walking?  Water instantly turning into wine?

 

Taken at face value, most of the stories stretch our ability to believe... and maybe, just maybe... that’s the point.  We’re called, as a people of faith, to see beyond what’s probable, and possible, and predictable, and practical... We’re called to walk by faith, not by sight.

 

Of course, our Gospel Lesson for today is such a story.  It’s familiar in our hearing.  Jesus feeding the 5,000 is foundational in the Gospels... ALL four of the Gospel writers thought it was important enough to share... to hand down to us. 

 

And part of its significance, its weight, is because it’s way more than just a story about a miracle.  For the Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the miracle became a parable. The feeding of the 5,000 is a story used to express or convey a spiritual truth; a truth about what we’re called to do... and who we’re called to be. 

 

Because... if we’re serious about following Jesus, at some point, he’s going to turn to us and say: “You do something... You give them something to eat.” And it matters how we respond to his command.

This story is about how we see the world... it’s about how you and I understand life... and blessings... and what we do with what we already have.  

 

Because the fact of the matter is: God has already given us everything we need.  He has given us the world... the earth... the sun... water... plants... food.  From the things God provides we build homes, we clothe ourselves, we feed ourselves.  Everything we have comes from God and will return to God.

 

Again: God has a way of taking what’s insufficient (or less than enough), and making it sufficient (or more than enough). God is proficient in providing something, out of nothing!

 

He did it way back, in the beginning... literally... in Genesis... when he created the heavens and the earth.  God did it again, when he took insignificant “dust” and formed man... Adam... breathing into his nostrils the “breath of life.”  God then took something as small as a “rib bone” - not much to it - and created Eve.

 

God takes little and makes it much!  God provided something out of nothing when his people were starving in the wilderness, and he provided manna... bread from heaven... for them to eat.

 

And Jesus does the same: He took what was there... what he had... what was already available - a young boy’s lunch - five loaves and two fish... and he provided for the needs of the multitudes.

 

In all four Gospels, after questioning where the provision - the money - for the bread would come from to feed the multitudes... Jesus turns to his disciples and says, “You give them something to eat.”

 

Of course, such a charge... such a command... is challenging at best!  Even impossible from a practical point of view. Imagine 13 of us (you and me) being call upon to feed the entire population of the Valley area. 

 

How in the world would we pull it off such a feat? The disciples were overwhelmed by the prospect of obeying Jesus. All they could see was how little they had... all they could imagine was scarcity: there would never be enough to go around!  Six month’s wages wouldn’t buy enough bread to feed such a crowd! 

 

But... what Jesus shows us is that, with Christ... in faith... whatever we have, whatever God has already given us, is always enough.  If we look at it in the right way.  If we decide to share.  If we let go of our fear and stop holding onto to what’s “ours” so tightly.  If we can do those things, we will always have enough to do what God calls us to do.

 

That’s how faith works.  The amount is insignificant. The quantity does not matter.  

 

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed... you have enough!  Because you’re not responsible for the outcome.  You’re only calling - my only responsibility - is to trust Jesus.  To trust and believe that Jesus is enough.

 

In what ways does our fear of scarcity (scarcity of resources, scarcity of faith) hold us back? Do we really believe that Jesus is enough?  Do you & I live our belief, do we LIVE our FAITH... or are we paralyzed by our sense of inadequacy and insufficiency?

 

God’s calling us to do big things... overwhelming things... things that seem impossible... things that seem beyond our ability to accomplish.  And they are!  But with Jesus... and through the power of His Spirit, you and I have more than enough. 

 

It seems impossible that five loaves and two fish could feed a multitude.  But everyone ate until they were satisfied, and when they collected the left overs, they filled twelve baskets full. 

 

God has a way of taking what’s insufficient, and making it sufficient. God is proficient in providing something, out of nothing!

 

We already have what we need, right here in our midst... as our faith makes the impossible, possible.

 

Amen.

 

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