Lent Day 25: Turning Deserts into Green Pastures
41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied.
With our nation in a time of economic struggle that is impacting so many, it can feel like a desert with little or no help to be found. While people wait for vaccines and stimulus checks, people can feel so alone and helpless. It is in these places where we feel we have entered a wilderness a, “deserted place” that Jesus meets us. His way of looking at the world and responding to it is radically different than what we can imagine. He always meets us in places that we least expect it. He takes our deserts and makes them a place of green pasture, where we can lie down and rest.
This story occurs in just such a place. The disciples do not have much food and they are far from the nearest Giant Eagle or Marc’s store. And even if they could get there, they did not have enough money for all the people in such a deserted place. This is the kind of place where only God can help, and you know he is the one that made it all possible. Out of our poverty he brings plenty.
We can, like the disciples, see our physical situation and throw up our hands and walk away because we see no hope. Even though, like the disciples, we have seen Jesus do great things in the past, we say to ourselves as they did, this one is far beyond even his ability to resolve the problem.
However, Jesus was moved with compassion because of his love for people. He looked beyond the problem because of his passion for people. Jesus was never fatalistic because he always could depend on his Father. “Give us this day our daily bread.” In this Easter season it is time for us to tell another story. The story that we hear in Psalms 24:1-2. “The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.
For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Please don’t miss verse forty-two. “And they all ate and were satisfied.” This meant that not only did the 5,000 people eat and were satisfied, so were the disciples, who thought there was not enough for anyone. Along with the fact there were twelve baskets left over.
As we ponder this story let us consider a couple themes:
1-It recalls God’s miraculous provision of food.
2-The feeding recalls the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their being fed in the desert. Jesus is a new and greater Moses.
“All of us are invited to be children and practitioners of this other story. We act it out in ways that disrupt our society, even as Jesus continues to disrupt our world of scarcity with his abundance.”
“We are constricted by stories of scarcity. Break through these false tales with the surprising truth of abundance. May we bask in your shalom and then perform your story of generosity over and over again. Amen.” Brueggemann
Garland, David E. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.