Surprise Ending or Not?

Feeding of the 500 by artist Justino Magalona

About five thousand were fed. As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. Matthew 14:21-22

The surprise finish to the feeding of the five thousand story is how the crowd reacted.  Or more accurately did not react.  After most miracles the crowd or disciples or religious officials reacted verbally to what they have seen. For example in Matthew 12 when Jesus healed a blind and mute man two reactions came forth:

 All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.”  Matthew 12:23-24.

 Yet there is no exclamation after feeding five thousand.  Is this because the disciples did the work of distributing the loaves and fishes and the people didn’t recognize Jesus’ participation?  Or is it because they didn’t see the wonder, assuming the disciples simply had access to lots of food? Or is bread and fish something that people just took for granted?

 I don’t know the answer, but it creates in me the desire to be more grateful for the food I eat and to look for opportunities to help feed others.  This Wednesday at noon  a group of us are going to help pack food for Feed My Starving Children in Eagan, MN.  And the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently sent me an e-mail regarding the famine in the Horn of Africa.  Jesus still needs our hands and dollars to feed our hungry neighbor. 

 Maybe that is why there is no reaction; the story is not finished.  Only when all the people are feed will we stand in amazement at what God has done through his people.

 Lord Jesus, there are still hungry people in our world.  May you use my loaves and gifts, my dollars and cents, to feed those who need help.  And teach me the art of being grateful and gracious with the bountiful food you have given me.

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