Sometimes we look at this story as a miracle story. People are gathered and are hungry but apparently don’t have enough to eat. Jesus is the magician who swoops in and presto changeo there is enough food for everyone. Five loaves and two fishes become enough to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. See the Power of Jesus as he feeds the multitude![audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/244408-i-wish-you-enough.mp3]
It is indeed a miracle story but instead of Magic Jesus producing all kinds of food, the real miracle here has more to do with sharing. I think it is safe to say that people gathered to hear Jesus speak had a little bit of food with them. Who travels anywhere without a little snack? Especially if you have kids. We may not pack the snacks if we’re going to Omaha but if we get off the interstate and go cross country it is pretty common to have a few things to nosh on. You just never know where the next food stop might be.
When it gets down to it, what is more powerful, coming up with enough food for 5,000 men plus women and children to eat or getting 5,000 men plus women and children to share all that they have? It would be pretty impressive to create enough food to feed all those folks but the real power of Jesus in this story is to get everyone to share all that they have.
This is nothing new for you. We’re a Lutheran church and we have potlucks on occasion. And today we’re having Souper Bowl Sunday in support of Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach. And we’ll have a crew out delivering hot meals for Meals on Wheels. We know about sharing food but back in the day following Jesus, trusting Jesus sharing what you had was a pretty radical idea. And in our society in general it still is.
We are taught right out of the gate to strive for more. More accomplishments, more money, more stuff. And yet the reality is that most of us, most of the time, have enough. Bob Perks wrote a poem titled I Wish You Enough and the idea is pretty spot on. We have a tendency to wish for more when the truth is what we really need is enough.
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”
It puts into perspective the idea that most of the time what we’re hoping for, what we’re striving for isn’t really all that important. We work hard to get more of whatever it is that we’re after and the reality is we probably have enough of it already.
Realizing that we have enough frees us to quit striving for more and instead to share what we have. The hard part sometimes is sharing with people who don’t deserve it, isn’t it? How easy is it for us to judge who deserves generosity and who doesn’t? I’ll be the first to admit that I get irritated sometimes about people who receive help and whether they could make better life choices so they didn’t need help. I suspect I’m not the only one that has done that.
The trouble is, and I find this downright annoying on occasion, is that Jesus never once makes any qualifications on who we should share with. Not once. Nowhere in today’s story does he look out over the thousands of people gathered and decide who deserves bread and fish. Nowhere in any other story in the Bible does he do this either.
And there he sets the example for the rest of us. Martin Luther suggested that we be ‘little Christs’ and I think we meant that while we cannot be Christ, we can try to be like Christ. And sharing without qualification or judgment is one of the ways that we’re being like Christ.
It is a good thing, too. It’s one thing to be generous and share food with people who don’t deserve it but what if Jesus only gave forgiveness to people who deserve it? Would we measure up? Have we made the right life choices so that we measure up and are good enough to deserve the forgiveness that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross brings us? The grim reality is we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness.
The good news is that we’re forgiven anyway. We’re not forgiven in spite of our failures, we’re forgiven because of them. We’ve all failed God in some way. We’ve all sinned in some way. And we’re all forgiven, ALL the way. This is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is enough.
I wish you enough.