Weekly Devotion for July 31, 2023
By Ebenezer Insor
Feeding of the Five Thousand: Our Apportionments in Action
"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over Matthew (14:17-20)
In my younger years, I focused on the miraculous aspect of the feeding of the 5000. But with the passing of time and growth in knowledge and understanding, I have come to appreciate the great lessons it offers us in many ways about trusting God, being generous, etc. Beyond the miracle are the lessons of all things are possible with God, abundance during scarcity, and more depending on how you view this passage. Whichever way you approach it, God’s mighty acts are affirmed in this passage.
In using it for this devotion I want us to focus on the least mentioned person in the passage, being the boy’s mother. What were her thoughts on sending the boy with these many loaves and fish? How long was he going to be gone and will need to be fed? Was it with the idea of maybe he will meet some friends or someone who might also be hungry? What kind of person was this woman? Was she a woman of compassion, kind and generous? Then there was the little boy himself. What had he been taught about sharing? It must have been exciting for him to have the opportunity of witnessing the greatest miracle in his life.
Let us not forget about Jesus’s radical hospitality. As the scripture depicts, he knew what he was going to do, but asked Philip about finding food for the crowd. No wonder Phillip reacted that it is impossible to feed that many people! How did Andrew find out about the meager five loaves and two fish to bring them? Jesus took them, blessed them giving thanks to God for his providence, and then asked the disciples to seat the people in 50, 100-fold. The outcome was that more than 5,000 people were fed with much more food left over. Have you ever witnessed such a wondrous act in your personal life or in a church?
This story reflects our apportionment in action. I know some of us are going to cringe or be like Phillip, which has become the norm in some churches. It is difficult to give to God when we do not have enough! But can we rather respond like Andrew did, seeking, finding, and using what we have been blessed with? Or being the little boy, bringing what he had to share with people he doesn’t know or has never met, and yet through him God’s providence would be manifested not forgetting the mother’s compassion. That is the mysterious aspect of our faith, which we struggle with when we underestimate the mighty power of God even with what we have.
Apportionment has been part of our Wesleyan heritage as giving is to our Christian heritage as affirmed in these words of the “World is my parish” and backed by these scriptures, “Freely ye have received, freely ye should give” as we profess in our faith, giving honor to God who has blessed us. Our apportionment enables us to fulfill our Godly obligations through our mission in the local church and community, nationally and worldwide. The miracles that have come out of it have been amazing. The African University in Zimbabwe is just one of the many testimonies to this, with the many graduates that have come out of it and serving all over the world.
We have been blessed as a conference to have some of the graduates serving among us here in Wisconsin as Clergy. Thanks to be to God and to the many of our churches who have intentionally and faithfully continued to fulfill this missional obligation in their ministry. For those who may for one or other reason have not been able to, take the first step by becoming intentional about it and commit to doing it by trusting God with your prayers as Jesus did. Do your part and leave the rest up to God and see his wondrous acts manifested in the life of your church.