To whom did you preach on Sunday?
You may answer, “I preached to my church.” But who was there?
In the back there’s a man who’s been coming for decades. But you’re not sure that he’s really grasped the Gospel. A few rows in front of him sits a family. On the outside they look, well, normal. But he has been flirting with a woman at work, and the marriage is headed for trouble.
Close to the front is a single woman. She sits by herself this morning as usual. A row or two in front of her is a family with a teenager. He’s disinterested and he has no problem showing it. His parents are worried. His choice of friends concerns them.
There’s a group of older ladies sitting together, as they do every Sunday. Their health is slowly declining, and there are fewer of them than there were a couple of years ago.
There’s the girl in the back who is a new believer. She brought her young children, but her husband has no interest. In fact he’s getting tired of the changes in the woman he married.
There’s a man who will find out this week whether he’s going to survive the job cuts at work. There’s a woman who’ll find a lump that wasn’t there a few weeks ago.
These – and many others – sit in our churches each week. They may be going through deep struggles, or they might tell you that life is good right now. Most of them have normal strains and stresses, joys and sorrows.
What do you have to give to them? All those people in need?
One day Jesus is teaching a large group of people. The day moves toward dusk. It’s time for the evening meal. The disciples want Jesus to send them away so they can get some food. And Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.”
The disciples protest. Where are they going to find food to feed them? Look at the crowd. Tired old people. Children getting fussy. Too many people. Too many needs.
We all know what happens. The loaves and the fishes. Jesus miraculously provides for the needs of the crowd. But he also provides something for the disciples too.
Their task is not about earthly food, but spiritual. And those who follow in the footsteps of the apostles – the preachers and teachers – are charged with feeding spiritual food to our people. Big church, little church – it doesn’t matter. Whoever is sitting out there needs to hear from God.
Jesus says “Give them something to eat.” But we can’t. Not on our own.
No amount of eloquence, no clever video, no carefully crafted exposition will reach the hearts of the needy people in our churches without the work of Jesus. That’s what Jesus is teaching his disciples and what he is teaching us in this story.
When you preach or teach this weekend you are insufficient in yourself for the task. We are only sufficient through Christ.
But the good news is that through Christ we are sufficient. And through our feeble efforts Jesus will feed his people.