Matthew 14:13-21 (MSG)
Supper for Five Thousand
When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick. Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.” But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.” “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said. Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.
I never looked at the passage another way. I only ever looked at it as a miracle of Jesus which it is but actually there is something even more we can get from it. I would read this passage and feel like it's not attainable or even not let it sink into my brain or heart. It wouldn’t propel me to action. Now, I read this in another way and it creates a deeper understanding and something I can learn from. It makes me asks the question, 'What do I need and what do I want?' because sometimes the things I need are not the things I want and the things I want are not the things I need.
How do we go about asking God for something? Do we get our motivations mixed up and think the things we ask God for are the things we need or are they the things we want? We get annoyed when God doesn’t answer our prayers for the things that we wanted. We need to stop viewing God as a vending machine or a God that will pander to us and start aligning with what God has for us.
I titled this piece ‘Need Vs Want’ because in this passage we can see the 'need' vs. the 'want'. Jesus wanted to slip away to a place by himself but it was unsuccessful because someone saw him and then people started to go where he was. Jesus wanted some time away but when he saw the crowd he was overcome with pity and healed their sick. The thing that he wanted to was quickly overrun with what he needed to do. The need was greater than the want.
Later on when the disciples asked Jesus to dismiss everyone, Jesus was still in the mindset of what these people needed and the trust that he had in his Father was exemplified when Jesus ‘took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples.’
So when we pray or even in our daily lives do we really think about the things we need and want? Do we get them mixed up? What happens when we don’t get what we want? Even in our culture, do we see the need? Or do we see what we want?
Let’s start asking ourselves these questions and see how life unfolds. Yes there will be disappointment and frustration ... but there will also be joy and surprise.
Susie Keegan is a creative, a font nerd, a graphic designer and the new Diocesan Youth Officer for the Dublin Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. Use ‘Comic Sans’ in the wrong context and you’ll feel her wrath! Being an author on this blog has really pushed her comfort zone and she is very happy to be part of this community.