Today is about God’s call to you. Your gifts. Your passions. Your time, your talents, your call.
Today is your boots on the ground day. Your burning bush experience where you have no choice but to take your shoes off in the presence of God. Today God asks you to get out of the boat and walk on water. Today you are Abraham, Sara, Moses, Esther, Isaiah, Mary and the disciples, who were all asked in their own way to stand before God and answer God’s call to give time and talents.
Today, we offer Jesus our lunch:
The Gospel of Matthew is a fascinating book that highlights how the disciples, the 12, are a new type of Israel. It also highlights the incredible power that is associated with that. We are the new Israel filled with righteousness and power! But, when you get to the final chapter, the final scene, there is little power and little that reflects a new type of Israel. Chapter 28 you see 11, not 12 (hardly a type for the re-formed 12 tribes of Israel!) disciples meeting Jesus on the mountain. There it says they worshipped him, but some doubted! Where’s the power in that? They were less than expected, and with less certainly than they ever dreamed. They were the worshipping doubters, the powerless disciples, the seeking followers. Less than expected, and with little power, Jesus commissions them for ministry. “Go, and make disciples of all nations… and I am with you always.” (Matt 28:19-20).
Folks, this is us! We are just like that. Jesus gives us the keys to the kingdom while we are still doubting worshippers. You are they. I am the disciples. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! Jesus, with all authority and power from God at his disposal, turns the ministry over to us. He looks us right in the eyes and says, “Your turn.”
We see him doing this over and over again. Like the time in Matthew 14 that Brad read earlier. The crowd has followed him into the wilderness away from all the strip malls and fast food joints, and people start to get hungry. In their passion to meet him, no one has bothered to bring lunch. The disciples come to Jesus with the only logical, rational plan possible: send everyone home, we’re hungry. Yes, yes, that is the right answer, of course.
In the midst of need, forgetfulness, and lack of planning, Jesus turns to them (or was it to us?), and says, “YOU give them something to eat.” You give them something to eat? Preposterous! Ridiculous! How in the world did Jesus expect us to give them something to eat? Not only do we not have enough money, there’s nothing around to buy anyway!
But Jesus spots a young boy complete with a lunch box. And what’s inside? 5 barley rolls and 2 tiny fish, enough for one kids meal before everything started being Supersized.
“Great!” says Jesus, “have everyone sit down.: His disciples have got to be asking, “Why, so they can all watch you eat this kids lunch? As if this situation isn’t bad enough for our PR.”
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
One boy with one lunch, plus a willingness to give it all to Jesus equals enough food for a crowd of over 5 thousand people! The math doesn’t add up here, but I like it. In the normal world, 1+1=2. But in God’s world, 1+1 almost never equals only 2. It equals a miraculous feeding of 5,000. It equals 11 lonely disciples kicking off a religious movement that literally has changed the history of humanity. 1+1 in God’s world equals the adventurous joy-filled life of following Jesus. Imagine how that little boy felt! The success, the confidence, the absolute unadulterated sense of expectation he must have lived with from that day on. I gave Jesus my lunch, and he turned it into a banquet for thousands! Jesus wanted his lunch, and look what happened?
I have a lunch, Jesus wants your lunch!
You see, that’s what happens when we center ourselves on the Spirit and grow in ministry, our humble doubting gifts become so much more in the hands of God. Our 1, plus God’s 1, equals a sight to behold! Paul says it in these typically ancient, religious ways: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to act according to his good purpose (Phil 2:12-13).” “I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was in me (1 Cor 15:10).” “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me (Colossians 1:29).” “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20).” Jesus himself says it with a little more directness, “Without me you can do nothing (John 15).”
1+1= God’s abundance, time and time again! And if, if in your doubting worship, if in your powerless discipleship, you answer God’s call to give your time and talents, God will do for us what God has done throughout God’s story in the world: multiply your offering 10, 30, 60, or a hundred fold!
As Mother Teresa put it, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less without that missing drop.”
Today is about God’s call to you. Your gifts. Your passions. Your time, your talents, your call. It’s about you boldly offering to Jesus your last meal, and expecting abundance in return. Today, God calls you to be yourself.
The early Hassidic sage Rabbi Zusya once said, “When I reach the next world, God will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ Instead, he will ask me, ‘Why were you not Zusya?'” Be who God is calling you to be.
The invitation is clear: center your entire existence on the Spirit, and grow in ministry.
Because I have a hunch, Jesus wants your lunch.
NOTE: The phrase, “I have a hunch, Jesus wants your lunch” was borrowed from a Stuart Briscoe chapel talk given at Wheaton College sometime between 1996-spring 1998.