Today’s lectionary gospel reading comes from Matthew and is one the miracle stories that is repeated through all four gospels. It is, thus, very important to understanding our faith when you consider that only the crucifixion, baptism, Holy Communion and the resurrection narrative and a few minor passages sit across all four retellings of Jesus’ life.
It is a narrative that can be used to understand Jesus as a miracle worker, as a provider as a compassionate preacher as well as the Son of God.
But today I want us to understand that Jesus offers us to be a main player in his miracles, in his provision, his compassion and his granting of us too to be sons and daughters of God. We begin to recognise this, when he says to his disciples in verse 16, ‘They need not go away. You give them something to eat.’
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching an SBS documentary called ‘The plagues of Egypt. It was a National Geographic style film/documentary that said that the ten plagues that befell Egypt, which we read about in the book of Exodus were indeed, possibly literal because of a natural cataclysmic event the occurred in 1619 BC or thereabout.
A huge volcanic eruption on the Mediterranean island of Santorini that could have caused immense ash clouds and acid rain which changed the climate, killing fish and sending frogs inland, killing cattle and creating boils on the skin and even killed the first born children, who would have been the little bread left in Egypt which could have been poisoned with a resulting fungus from the new rainy climate.
It was fascinating with all the scientific hypothesis and how the Israelites in their chronicles may have turned it into a story of Yahweh’s retribution on the Egyptians.
In the video, Moses is seen simply stamping his staff on the ground, but little was said about his part in the story.
It made me think’ without Moses it would not have been a God story that we reflect on in the greater story of God and God’s creation and redemption of creation.
Like Jesus saying to the disciples when the miracle of multiplication occurred – ‘You do something about it’.
I have witnessed a couple of incredible multiplication type miracles in God’s mission through me. I read from my journal of the events of Holy Thursday 2009:
‘I was astounded of how God works and ultimately complied to make more crosses. Two chaplains has asked me for more (this was for the Kinglake Fire victims) but I felt the pressure of essays, ACOMP, BMF meetings and I couldn’t comply. However, God has other plans and I need to listen and to trust in him more. Organising a set of rural placements firstly in Nyngan and Cobar proved difficult. Then trying to get experience in Hillston and Canowindra with the two rural chaplains – next to impossible.
Finally the Griffith option fell through the minister failed to even contact me. So I had a few days home in Sydney before heading to Gilgandra and onto Adelaide. I felt strongly to set aside two days to make more crosses and I emailed the Chaplains and promised them another half dozen each.
Then came the multiplication miracle of Holy Thursday.
I decided to cut and orbitally sand as many crosses as I could to take them to Gilgandra. There I could spend the nights hand sanding and finishing them.
I started at 1.30 pm and finished at 6.20 pm. Half hour break to watch Judge Judy at 3.00 pm and ¼ hour afternoon tea with Thea and Katherine, i.e., about 4 and a half hours sanding.
Two miracles occurred.
Firstly I cut out and sanded thirty crosses – a job that should have taken about 15-20 hours, working at considerable speed.
Time, for a second time, seemed to slow down and stand still (on retreat the week before I was able to read nine books of the Bible, write an ACOMP profile, spend time praying, writing, reading, fossicking, coking, sanding holding crosses all in a twenty four hour period and still have time for 8 hours sleep.
I cannot explain this incident in anything other than in a supernatural way. Juast as amazing, to cut out and sand these thirty crosses with the orbital sander would take, at least, 6 sanding discs – after doing 4 or five crosses the sanding discs become too clogged up by the oily cypress wood dust, they rip and lose their grip on the valcro.
This sanding paper – was on the sander at the start – it had already done two or three crosses – so it was on the way out. It did all thirty and I still had to peel it off the sander – such was its grip.
To show the extent of the miracle – on Easter Tuesday I used five discs to do five crosses.
I was reminded of Dr Ed Kwan’s multiplication miracles – one where a woman came into the surgery asking for food. He put together two grocery bags. Three months later, even though she had not gone shopping, the content of that lady’s grocery bags had not come to an end.”
These miracle stories have something in common other than the fact that they ended in multiplication – there was a person who stood up and served others as well as serving God. As Jesus said, ‘do not send them away, you do something.’
We are all given the power to do a little bit and see what God does with it. We may not see the results now but one day in glory all will be revealed.
I finish off with a line from the move Bruce Almighty that we’ve shown snippets of in a service on prayer a couple of years ago.
Bruce stands before God, when Bruce is bemoaning (a little like Moses at the Burning Bush) that he himself can’t do anything to change the course of events around him.
And God says, ‘You want to see the miracle son? Be the miracle!’