What I’m Thinking: Following to Learn

When we follow Jesus into the wilderness, we will find a loving, compassionate welcome. It still might be a good idea to pack a lunch.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 14:13-21). This is one of the best known stories in the Scriptures. It is one of the few stories that is told in all four gospels. You probably know it. It’s the story about Jesus feeding the five thousand.

Jesus didn’t set out to gather a crowd that day. The gospel says that he and his disciples, in fact, had left the villages in order to find some time for themselves. Call it a retreat; call it a break; call it a vacation, even just a day off. The people went looking for him, however, and they turned up in a good-sized crowd.

First, Jesus saw that they were hungry for learning, so he taught them, but as the day drew towards its close he also realized they were hungry. He turned to his disciples and said, “Give them something to eat.” They summoned up five loaves and two fish (I suppose that might have been the dinner for Jesus and his little group), but it wasn’t going to feed five thousand people, they said. Until Jesus broke bread, divided the fish, and when it was done they were all fed and there were 12 baskets full of leftovers.

We can learn a lot from this story. Like what? Well, I suppose you could learn if you’re going to follow a teacher out into the wilderness it’s probably a good idea to bring your supper, and it is probably a good idea not to anticipate miracles, at least in the matter of feeding ourselves, even though sometimes those miracles do take place.

I think what we learn from here is that even when Jesus faced a time that he really needed space, a time that he really needed rest, his compassion was such that he responded to the needs in front of him. He responded to the religious needs. He responded to the physical needs.

I think it’s also important to realize that Jesus’ needs remained. After this, in the very next sentence, Jesus sent his disciples away and Jesus sent to the crowds away and he went off this time by himself (I’m not sure why the disciples had to go; it’s quite possible that he worried that they might attract another crowd the next day). Jesus took his time, the time he needed to refresh and renew so that when the next day came he was ready for it.

So bring some bread into the wilderness. Be prepared to share it.

Go into the wilderness to seek the learning that you need, and also know that when you find the risen Christ, you will be met with compassion and love and welcome.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on August 1, 2023

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