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From Connection to Communion

Scripture: Matthew 14.13-21 08.02.2020

In our passage today, we get a glimpse into the humanity of our Savior, Jesus. The text begins with some sad news: “When Jesus heard about John.” He is referring here to the tragic death of John the Baptist at the hands of the ruler Herod. This caused Jesus to withdraw from everyone to be by himself. When he returned, there was a large crowd, over 5,000 people, waiting for Him, full of expectations for healing and attention.

When Jesus saw these people, He didn’t turn away. He wasn’t too tired.

He had compassion for them and healed those who were sick. And if this were not enough, He performed a miracle by feeding them all with just five loaves and two fish.

As with many of the stories in the Bible about Jesus, there are lessons for us to learn. In this passage, I want to draw your attention to two important points: 1. Jesus’ love connects Him to all people; and 2. As Jesus ‘followers, the connections we make and build with others will lead us to do more for them than we ever thought we could.

Staying connected is an important part of being human. Every person needs some kind of connection with others, but this takes work. One significant relationship I am building, especially after my mother’s death, is with my father. My father once said to me, “it’s not good to get old.”

When he said this, I realized something. My Dad was afraid that I was going to forget him. He thought that as an old man, he might not be important to us anymore. In that moment, God filled me with compassion for my Dad and I had to act on it. I now do my best to stay connected with him, showing him in practical ways that I love him and will never forget or forsake him. This is especially crucial now that he lives in a nursing facility.

I can’t see him in person, but I call him weekly and send him postcards. I have made sure that he has pictures of himself with his children. And Connect with him by listening his joys, pains, his whole life. When I visited the facility last week, the nurse told me that my Dad likes to point to the pictures and proudly say, “These are my children.”

I cannot stress to you how important it is to work hard at staying connected with others. It is one of the most Christ-like things we can do. The four gospels tell us that Jesus made connections with everyone, especially with the needy.

In our Scriptural lesson today, not only did Jesus share the good news and heal the sick around Him, He went even further. Jesus had brought healing to their souls, and now He was going to feed their bodies. The disciples had dinner on their minds after a long day, but Jesus told them, “There’s no need to send [the crowd] away. You give them something to eat” (v.16).

In somewhat of a masterclass on how to build meaningful connections, Jesus simply gave all that He had. And now He invited His disciples to join him in going deeper into “communion.”  

Creatively Connecting with others should be our mission. When the Holy Spirit moves our heart with compassion, we are to listen people’s pain, to respond, help, make connections, and then deepen relationships. The more connected we can be, the more love and communion we will experience with one another, and with God. When Jesus says, “you give them something to eat,” he means that WE are to serve and satisfy the needs of the people around us, whether they are our parents, spouse, children, or a neglected neighbor.

We must begin by interacting with the ones around us and be on the lookout for how we can deepen our relationships or provide spiritual support. Some of you will be called to listen, support and demand justice for the despised and undermined who suffer from racism, bigotry, and exclusion during this pandemic.

We all probably know the next steps we should take. Just like the disciples who obeyed Jesus, God will bless our obedience abundantly!

Jesus took what was available, 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and fed more than 5,000 people! So, let’s obey our Lord and follow His example to be connectors and relationship-builders. When we do, God will do more than we ever thought or dreamed. And people will say, “God’s kingdom is among us.”