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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sit Down


I’ve read the story many times before. It’s the one where Jesus feeds the five thousand with a few pieces of bread and some fish. Here’s how John tells it in the sixth chapter of his gospel:

Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” . . . . One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So, the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated . . . .”

This time through, I stopped reading at that first clause of verse 11. Look at it again: “He distributed [the food] to those who were seated.”

I wondered why John mentioned the posture of those who were to receive the food – that they were ‘seated’ on the grass. Maybe it’s because there were in that crowd people who were standing.  Maybe they were getting ready to go somewhere else, thinking to themselves, “There’s nothing worth listening to, here.”

As I pondered the scene, I remembered the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10.  You might remember it. Jesus was having lunch with the sisters in their home. Martha busied herself bustling around the kitchen, while sister sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him.

"Jesus,” Martha complained, “Tell my sister to help me.”

Do you remember the Lord’s answer? “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Getting back to the crowd of five thousand, for me there was a nugget of a lesson in that nearly invisible clause: “He distributed to those who were seated.” And that lesson is this:

Richard, sit down. You need to hear what Jesus wants to tell you. Whatever else it is you think you need to be doing, it can wait. You need to sit.

And be still.

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