The economy of the United States is in a precarious position because of the multitrillion dollar national debt. Debt has a way of breaking even the most robust profit-making enterprise. The debt of our country is so staggering it boggles the mind. By 2029, debt is estimated to reach $28.7 trillion, 93% of the gross national product. We wonder when it will all come crashing down.
The people of Jesus’ day were no strangers to worries about money. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us not to worry.
“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
“The Gentiles strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:27-30, 32-34)
In today’s reading Jesus sits upon another mountain teaching and healing the sick. They were gathered in the desert regions near the Sea of Galilee for three days. The people were hungry and had nothing to eat. Jesus asked the disciples how much food they had to share. They had only seven loaves and a few fish.
Matthew’s gospel tells of miraculous feedings of large crowds on two different occasions. After feeding a crowd of 5,000 with only five loaves, there were twelve baskets of bread left over. In the second story in Matthew 15, four thousand are feed with seven loaves and seven full baskets are left over.
Numbers in the bible sometimes have symbolic meaning. In biblical numerology seven means completeness or fullness. The number twelve represents the nation of Israel. The number seventy or seventy-two often represents the Gentiles, everyone else who are not Jews. In this story the seven baskets left over from the seven loaves is a way of saying there is plenty for the Gentiles.
The feeding the multitudes are pointing to something about the kingdom of heaven. There is plenty for all, both Jew and Gentile. The numbers three, seven and four-thousand are featured in today’s reading. They were in the desert three days. The number three often points to God, who is triune, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who raised Christ Jesus from the dead on the 3rd day. The number four represent the corners of the earth, the four directions. It’s a way of pointing to the complete coverage of God’s creative action in the story. The number ten is the sum of seven and three, meaning completeness concerning God. The number 1,000 is the product of 10 x 10 x 10. (Notice that’s 3 tens) In a way the number four-thousand could be understood as a complete work of God across every corner of the globe.
What is the message to us today? Well, God’s got this covered. Don’t worry. Seek first the kingdom and all else will be given to you. God knows what you need. Christ has compassion for you. He will provide for you. God can act miraculously, but most often does so through normal means, like the generosity of others.
The next time you begin to worry about the future, about not having what you need, remember to whom you belong. You serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is plenty for all who are in the kingdom. Be not afraid and be generous.
Shalom to you my friend,