Let’s continue exploring some numbers in the Bible. You might now have figured out 153 from last week…or did you. But I’ll be you recognize 5,000. That’s an easy one, right?
Many of you might be giving the answer right now – “The Feeding of the Five Thousand.” Except that…well…it’s not entirely correct.
Jesus didn’t feed 5,000 with those five loaves and two fish.
Before you throw me out of the church, go back and read Matthew chapter 14. And pay special attention to verse 21. “Those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
So…Jesus fed 5,000 men PLUS women PLUS children. Some biblical experts suggest the number may be 15,000 or more.
If you guessed the feeding of the 5,000, give yourself a half point. If you knew it was 5,000 men plus women and children, you get the full point. But let me make three bigger points.
First, God uses what we have. Jesus doesn’t work from nothing. He starts with an offering of five bread rolls and two little fish. Sometimes we can look at ourselves and say, “I really don’t have anything to give.” God disagrees.
Second, when God gets involved, there is abundance. We see that in the miracle of water turned to wine. We see that with the catch of 153 large fish. We see that here. We are told that Jesus feeds everyone, and there’s a bunch left over. However God does that, God isn’t skimpy. The world around us tells us to think “scarcity” – we don’t have enough, we need more, we need to keep everything to ourselves. God invites us to think “abundance” – we are gifted, graced, and blessed so that we can be a blessing.
Third – and this is the “numbers” point – people sometimes get left out or not counted. The Bible tends to record less names of women, or stories with women. And then when we retell Bible stories, we can add to that. (I’m dismayed by how some of the really cool stories of girls or women in the Bible don’t make it into kids Bibles or Sunday readings.) Look for the hidden people. They count too. And they might just represent you.
Yep – there were 5,000 men there. And a whole bunch of women and children. Everyone counts!