Wednesday (November 30): Scripture: Matthew (alternate reading: Matthew 4:18-22)
29 And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain, and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. 32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” 10 For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trodden down in his place, as straw is trodden down in a dung-pit.
Meditation: What can satisfy the deepest hunger and longing of the human heart? Isaiah prophesied that God would provide a heavenly banquet for all peoples and would destroy death once and for all (Isaiah 2:6-8). Jesus came to fulfill that promise. Jesus’ miracles are both a sign of God’s kingdom and a demonstration of God’s power. They also show the magnitude of God’s mercy.
When the disciples were confronted by Jesus with the task of feeding four thousand people many miles away from any source of food, they exclaimed: Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? The Israelites were confronted with the same dilemma when they fled Egypt and found themselves in a barren wilderness. Like the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus, himself provides bread in abundance for the hungry crowd who came out into the desert to seek him. The gospel records that all were satisfied and they took up what was leftover.
In the multiplication of the loaves and fishes we see a sign and a symbol of what God always does. God knows our needs and he cares. When God gives, he gives in abundance. The gospel account records that the leftovers from the miraculous meal was more than seven times the amount they began with. Seven is a symbol of completion and wholeness. When God gives, he gives until we are satisfied. When God works for his people he gives abundantly – more than we could deserve and more than we need. He nourishes us with his life-giving word and with the bread of heaven. In the kingdom of heaven God will feast us at his banquet table. Are you satisfied with God’s provision for you? And do you long with expectant hope for the coming of his kingdom in all its fulness?
Lord, you alone can satisfy the longing and hunger in our hearts. May I thirst for your kingdom and find joy in your presence. Give me the true bread of heaven and nourish me with your life-giving word.”
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
2 he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.