Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Devotional Thoughts Based on Luke 9:10-17

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

by Bro. Abey George

Gospel Reading Matthew 15:32-39, The Feeding of the four thousand in the wilderness

Glory be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen

Beloved in Christ!

There are three significant points that stands out in this particular passage.

1. The eagerness of those who followed Christ, to hear and be around Him, regardless of time and place.

It is noteworthy that the multitude stayed with Christ for three days in the desert. If we put this in the modern context, we can see a "three day retreat" being held in the desert with our Lord. It is commending to know that the multitude was willing to follow Christ, even into the desert to hear Him and to be around Him. They have pushed aside their daily routines, jobs and concerns to be with our Lord for spiritual nourishment. They were not forced by Christ but out of their own free will chose to set aside all the worldly concerns of life and decided to follow Christ wherever he went.. Often times we tend to be concerned about time only when it comes to spiritual things. The crowd on the other hand was eager to be nourished by Christ and they were willing to invest time since they knew it will be a benefit for them, and not merely to please Christ. The reality is that at times, we temporarily set aside spiritual things until we want God to intervene in our lives, when we are in need of help. Can we compare our zeal and enthusiasm to that of the crowd that followed Christ into the desert? Do we long to spend time with our Lord in Church, searching for the words of our Lord in the Holy Scriptures and praying to Him? Do we come to Church for Liturgy, eager to receive the Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we not often times guilty of coming to Church services and activities just so that the Priest might not be disappointed in us? We are to invest time for spiritual things not for the benefit of others but to work out our own salvation which requires us to overlook time and place.

2. Christ feels compassion for His people

After having been in the desert for three days, we do not see the crowd approaching Christ for food. It is also evident through this that they went into the desert with Christ by their own choice. It is Christ who surfaces the concern in regards to their physical needs. We see in the book of Exodus Moses leading the Israelites into the wilderness fleeing from the Pharaoh and his armies, and they began to murmur since they ran out of food to eat (Exodus 15:24). The same God, who heard the murmur of His people in the wilderness, now feels compassion to those who followed Him into the desert. Christ says "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way" (vs. 32). Christ realizes that the provisions they have saved up, might have been used up, being in the desert for three days. Christ identifies himself with the hunger the crowd felt. Christ, who fulfills the spiritual needs of his people, fails not to fulfill their physical needs as well. He does not will the crowd to leave His presence feeling hungry, for Christ being the creator of all, is also the sustainer of all. It is Christ's own hunger and desire to feed His flock, for the distance they traveled was so much that Christ testifies that the crowd would faint if they leave without being physically nourished.

3. Christ feeds the crowd with the little food the disciples brought to the Lord

Within the consumer world, buying bulk and saving in bulk has been the motto in the West. We buy in bulk and store it for days and weeks. In this passage, Christ satisfied a whole multitude with very little food they had saved. Christ previously have taught the disciples not to worry about what they would eat, drink and wear (Matthew 6:31). In fact He says "Indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). Here Christ fulfills this promise to his disciples. The crowd and His disciples sought the kingdom of God by being with Christ. The question that Christ asks to his disciples "How many loaves have you?" is very significant. Christ asks His disciples to bring what they have in their possession. Christ asks the same question to us everyday "What do you have to bring to me?" Do we find ourselves holding back on anything because we feel it is not sufficient to bring to the Lord? When it comes to the talents that God has given us, do we hold back? When it comes to our possessions, are we reluctant to let go of them? Christ, through this miracle, invites all of us to bring forth the qualities that we have that can be used for the building up of His Church. God blessed Abraham's descendants since he was willing to give his only son to God as a sacrifice (Genesis 22). He was blessed immensely by becoming the father of a whole nation. If we present wholeheartedly what we have to our Lord, he takes it and blesses it and multiplies it for us. Christ multiplied it for the disciples and commands them to distribute it to the crowd. Christ worked His miracle through the disciples, as they became instruments for our Lord.

Let us pray that our faith may be like that of the crowd who longed to be with Christ. Let us imitate the lives of the Apostles and have the strength to live out the life of the Church so that we may become great witnesses of Christ to the world. Let us bring not only our treasures but also our time and talents to the Lord so that God may use us as instruments for His work in this world. May God Bless and keep us all. Amen.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost

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