It had been a long day. It started out with terrible news. Some disciples of John the Baptist made the long trip from Jerusalem to Galilee to search for Jesus and tell him that his cousin had been murdered. Needing time to think and pray and be alone with His Father, Jesus took a boat out onto the lake to be away from it all, and the hustle and bustle of the towns. But the crowds followed him along the shore and so Jesus thinking not of himself but of their needs, came ashore and started praying and laying on hands for the sick, healing all who came to him. When the crowd swelled in number, he walked up the hill so he could speak to the thousands gathered and tell them of God’s kingdom and God’s love. The people flocked to hear him, and in parable after parable He described the Kingdom of Heaven. The, literally, earth shattering truth that the world as we know it, is not all that there is to know. That Heaven has come to earth and that we can know God, be known by Him, loved by Him, and draw close to Him. As the sun started to dip below the hills on the far side of the lake, the crowd hungry to hear Jesus speak were getting physically hungry and the disciples urged Jesus to send them away…
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
Jesus in deep sorrow starts the day by taking time out alone with God; in prayer, in conversation, in peace with His Father. When the crowds begin to gather, Jesus who always did what the Holy Spirit guided, took compassion on the crowd, put his own needs aside and came ashore, healed the sick, taught about God’s deep love and presence, then in an astonishing creative miracle took the five loaves and two fish, thanked God for his provision and feed the 5000 men plus all the gathered women and children with enough left over to fill 12 baskets.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14
Nothing is impossible for God.
Jesus is the God of all Compassion and Jesus is the God of Creation.
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Matthew 14:20
Jesus still in need of peace and time with God, only left the crowds when they were all satisfied. And only then did He send the disciples across the lake in a boat, telling them He would join them later. Matthew describes the more private miracle that follows, when Jesus walks across the water to meet up with the disciple. Nothing is impossible for God…
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
If all are satisfied in God and nothing is impossible for God, why then is there still pain and suffering, murder and slavery, tragedy, and loss in the world? How does that fit with the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus was preaching about? How can we be satisfied and have peace with this contrast? What did the psalmist and gospel writer mean when they said that ‘He fufills the desires of all those who fear Him’?
Do we get everything we want or desire? Clearly not…
John the Baptist was murdered to satisfy the wicked desires of Herod and his mistress. This was devastating news for Jesus. This week at St Bart’s we had the funeral of a young woman who died way too soon, leaving a huge hole for her family, friends, and colleagues. We don’t always receive what is good, yet the truth of the Good News of the Kingdom of God is exactly that – good news.
For, in Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God he is telling us that no matter what befalls us here on earth, heaven is not distant and somehow way up in the sky, but with us, available to us, close to us and present for us. God never leaves us or forsakes us. This world is not as God desires it. It is broken, sinful, lost, misguided. There are tragedies and sickness and loss, but Jesus has died, risen and ascended. God’s plan for its recovery has been set in place. One day Jesus will return and there will be a new heaven and a new earth and the Holy City will descend to be with us and all things will be restored. The Kingdom of God is both now and not yet. The tragedy of loss is very real and causes us pain. Jesus needed to grieve and weep and cry out to His Father and so do we. Yet, for those in Christ, there is the restoration to heaven. For those on earth, we have God with us, Emmanuel, Christ. And we are invited to listen to Him, walk with Him, learn from Him, follow Him and make a difference where we can; speak words of kindness, hold out a helping hand, trust in God and pray, see miracles when God allows. We weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice, we speak love and peace. But mostly we do as Jesus did, and seek first the Kingdom of God and know that in God’s timing and in His grace all will be well, if not at the time, in eternity. Now we see in part, but one day we will see clearly.
This is not a vain wish list, but a faithful promise. Our satisfaction comes with Christ, through Christ and in His timing.
I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Psalm 145:1-7
Revd Stuart Huntley