A Meal That Satisfies


The lectionary gospel this week moves us from focusing on the parables of Jesus to considering one of the most known of Jesus’ miracles, the feeding of the 5000. Other than the resurrection, it’s the only miracle that appears in all four Gospels. Every preacher will try to find a new angle to preach on this very familiar story, including me. However, as I was reading the story yet again, two things jump out at me. One was this feeding was “a meal that satisfies!” The other was “the math just doesn’t add up!”

This Sunday, I will be preaching about “A Meal That Satisfies.” So in this Note from Pastor J R, I want to talk about the fact that “The Math Just Doesn’t Add Up.” How can a little boy’s lunch of five sardine size fish and two biscuits the size of a sand dollar multiply into feeding such a huge crowd. “The Math Just Doesn’t Add Up.”

My sister, Lillian, who was just with us for a couple of weeks, loves to tell people in Connecticut where she lives that football in Alabama is a religion. She’s right! I’d venture to say that viewership of Alabama and Auburn games on Saturdays surpass the total attendance of all churches in Alabama combined the following Sunday mornings. Since it’s almost football season again, perhaps this amusing little story can help us understand a lesson when “The Math Just Doesn’t Add Up.”

There is a story of the football coach who had two quarterbacks. The first string quarterback was gifted, aggressive, and a born leader. The second string quarterback was, let us say, limited. Oh, he was athletic enough but unfortunately, he lacked a mind for strategy. The championship game was in progress, the score was tied, the home team had the ball, and the clock was ticking down. An opposing player broke through the line of scrimmage and slammed the star quarterback to the ground with such force that he had to leave the game. Time was running out. The coach had no choice but to put in the back-up. The substitute trotted onto the field, huddled the team, and strode up to the line of scrimmage.

Surveying the opposing team, and much to everyone’s surprise, he changed the play at the line. The ball was snapped, the quarterback handed it off to the half-back who busted up the middle and sped all the way into the end zone with the winning touchdown! An amazing play. Moments later, in the ecstatic dressing room, the coach grabbed his second string quarterback by the shoulder pads and said, “Son, that was great! How did you know to call that play?” The boy said, “Uh, well coach, it weren’t easy. I got up to the line and looked across at two of the biggest players I’ve ever seen and I seen their numbers. One of ’em was wearing a six and the other one was wearing a seven, so I just added them numbers together and got fourteen and called number fourteen.” The coach hesitated a moment and said, “But son, six and seven make 13.”

The boy, quite unmoved by the correction, said, “You know what coach? If I was as smart as you, we would have lost the game.” Things do not always add up the way they are supposed to, do they?

We are often tempted to think we are pretty smart. I wonder though, when it comes to miracles and God’s economy, if God were as “smart” as we are; how lost would we be? Something to think about.

Join us this Sunday morning at Covenant for another look at the feeding of the 5000. I’ll be preaching on “A Meal That Satisfies” from Matthew 14:13-21.


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