by Kenneth C. Kroohs

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Kenneth C. Kroohs
Nehemiah 9:16-20; Psalms 78:14-20, 23-25; Romans 8:35-39; Matthew 14:13-21
August 01, 1999

The gospel sound familiar? It should. The feeding of the multitudes is the most often heard story in the Gospels. Since we read every word of all four gospels over a three year period, this is familiar. The feeding of the five thousand is one of the very few events recorded in every Gospel. Jesus' birth isn't. And, Matthew and Mark also include a very similar story of the feeding of the four thousand. So the basic events are recorded six times in the four Gospels.

Which would make this another good Sunday for the preacher to take a vacation! How much can you say about this? Even the old joke about this being the first recorded Episcopal potluck supper doesn't help! Actually, knowing the great cooks around here I cannot imagine a pot luck supper with only fish and bread.

Including the preceding events as Matthew records them does help a little. John the Baptist had been killed effectively for no good reason. Jesus hears that his cousin and friend has been killed and goes away, alone. We assume it was to grieve.

It might even have been to consider that Herod would soon decide Jesus' fate.

Whatever the reason, the crowd followed Jesus. Five thousand men, probably 10-12,000 people when you include women and children, must have traveled many days to reach Jesus. This is not the size crowd that could be generated from a couple nearby villages! So when Jesus left, they followed Him.

This is a familiar story but even so it is not boring. So much happens we find it difficult to focus. We can focus our attention on Jesus: His grief, His concern, His compassion, His miraculous power.

Or we can focus on the disciples: Their dullness of wit, their failure to understand, their selfishness. Is there anything in that we could learn from?

Or we can focus on the event. Was it a true miracle? Was it ...

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