Jesus Wants to Know "How Much Bread Have You Got?"

Nope. It's not just me. It's Jesus. Jesus wants to know, "How much bread have you got?" He's been askin' ever since that famous day on the hillside, long ago. He sees folks hungry. In their stomachs. In their spirits. [DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT KIND OF HUNGER, HERE, TODAY?] And his heart… and more… goes out to them. Read what Linda read in the original language. Christ's words get more vivid than "I have compassion on the crowd." God's Only Begotten Son, sees this, this hunger, and he tells the folks who love him best, "I feel for these souls. Right down to the pit of my stomach and more. Navel to knees, I'm rumblin' and shakin' at the sight and the sense of them." Oh, friends, that's what compassion literally means. It's what it meant to Jesus. And the disciples asked him, as we still do, and not with all that much sensitivity, "So what do you expect us to do about it? We're so few; they're so many." And then Jesus does two things you and I need to understand. Get this, and you and I will never be quite the same again. Jesus asks the disciples, "How much bread have you got?" "How much bread have you got?" "How much bread have you got?" And then Jesus tells the crowd to sit down. It's a foreshadowing clue! [Organ riff] Somethin' holy, and wholly unexpected, is coming next! [Organ riff]

Jesus asks us to look within. 'Wants to know. How much bread? What have you been given you're willing to give? You know, we hear alot in the church, and in pop culture today, about what Jesus has in store for us. The Rev. Joel Osteens of the world, the Rick Warrens, raise millions touting Christ giving us Your Best Life Now and The Purpose Driven Life and Church. Bruce Wilkinson's words on the Prayer of Jabez put many on their knees, asking God to enlarge their territory. Lots of us have read and heard this. How true, how wonderful. God in Christ is still the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift. But so many are still hungry. And tired. And weak. Right before our eyes. And Jesus closes his eyes and prays to heaven our hearts, our inmost, deepest parts will be moved, entirely on behalf of others. He wants us to feel like him, so we can be like him. So he brings us up short when we assume we are too small, too weak to make a difference. In effect he says, "Look within, and then when you look around you'll see things in a completely new way." They searched their robes for what could be given from their hearts. We need to, too.

Let's look at this in a very down to earth way. Blessed to be a blessing! A colleague of ours, The Rev. Melissa McDade inspired me with this technique, though with a different point, at a Board of Ordained Ministry meeting Linda and I attended this week. Take out your wallet, or just open your purse if you have one. (It's OK. No offering here. And no peekin' 'tween each other!) Now just take a minute and look what's in there. Remember, Jesus said, where your treasure is, there's your heart also. I'll go first. Yea, I got some cash in here. Six bucks. (You got change for two threes?) These are resources we can share. And you expected this. But I've got more. You too. My license is in here. I have an identity, status, standing. It reminds me. I have the same with God. A child of Heaven, a redeemed sinner, a disciple who wants to be like Jesus. And I can drive. I'm mobile. Able-bodied at the moment. I've got energy God in Christ can have. I've got pictures of Beverly and the kids in here (when they were kids). I'm loved. Even me. Connected. Nurtured. The strength I get from all of this I can loan out, or give away. (Like the commercial asks, "What's in your wallet?") Where's Andy, the retired Super Fresh mgr.? Look, I've got my Super Fresh Card. I have access to food and fancies from all over the world, right here in Odenton! You too. I've got my old Retail Clerk's Union Card in here (should I ever need work). My health insurance cards are here. And yes, a credit card. Together they tell me I have a future and the means to secure it. They're my wallet's version of my hymnal's far better promise, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!" I got some lint in here too, and shreds of paper, messages I should have thrown away long ago. A receipt for a bill I owe. You carryin' around some dead weight, waste or debt you too need to be rid of? Not everything in your wallet is a resource. Some stuff's a burden. But also a ticket to empathizing, sympathizing, identifying with those who have so much less than you or I. Ahh, I've got this too. A little ordination card so I can park at the hospital. Tells me there's a place reserved when I go to the hospital in Jesus' name. Jesus, the one who paid for me, the outstanding bill I owe Heaven for my sins, so many, so sad, so silly. Materially, spiritually, as our purses and wallets witness, we come to every hillside with bread for living and the Bread of Life. Jesus made them see that long ago. Do YOU see?

Jesus says to us as to those long ago, "Sit down, brace yourself, you're in a miracle zone!" Don't miss the comparison in this Bible story to another famous one. The Sermon on the Mount. In that story, Jesus goes up on the mountain. But then, he sits down to preach! Tradition was, when the rabbi's seated, his word is official, heaven itself lets down its message from above. In this story, Jesus has the people sit down. Not just because their tired. No, he wants to show that the Word of God will be coming from them, through them, from among… them. In the miracle of sharing, begun with dithering disciples, continued and passing among the people, Jesus has the capacity to multiply what-would-not-be-nearly-enough into all-we-need-and-to-spare! Those seven baskets left over (remember seven, like the days of the week, the complete, perfect number in Bible times), the sign that all we need is available, with treasure laid up in heaven and just waiting, for those who believe! …Oh, I have a hillside story….

I went to see a lovely, loving friend of ours. She will be with Christ, and dining with him soon. [And not just a foretaste, mind you, hors d'ouvres of the eternal, such as we will share at this communion table, but the full and fairest feast.] She gave me a little note a believer shared with her, because it's so helped her through hard times. It reads, "Faith for a miracle is easier to come by than trusting the Lord when no miracle happens." We allowed that in her journey she has not come to the miracle she wanted. Instead, God gave her a better one. Sharing and love from folks who thought they were not adequate. Not up to it. But they helped her to see that peace that passes all understanding, the very best miracle of all. "Better than pain free," she says. "I have peace!" This week, I went to a miracle zone! And I came home to one. You did too. It's wherever we see hunger and hear the Master ask, "How much bread have you got? And we stop. And look: Deeply. And give: unreservedly from our hearts. And Christ walks among us. And multiplies the loaves. And everyone is filled. And enough is left to complete the love of God!

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