Tomorrow many of us will go to a worship service. Some of us will go with specific burdens such as a bad diagnosis, a marriage in trouble, a guilt that needs forgiveness. Jesus did invite us to bring our burdens to him. His compassionate invitation is a gift from God that goes far beyond our capacity to imagine. The rest of us might come with expectations for the service. The music staff will provide dynamic music. The pastor’s sermon will be engaging and winsome. Jesus will naturally work along side us to build the kingdom. Bringing our burdens is a gift; bringing our expectations is a different matter.
The reading is the very familiar feeding of the 5000. The crowd was coming because they saw the miraculous signs that Jesus had performed with the sick. Jesus asked the disciples how are they going to feed all those people and they didn’t have a clue. All they could find was a boy with five barley loaves and a couple fish (the meal of a poor peasant). However in God’s abundance, there was more than enough. Jesus fed all five thousand with a surplus of twelve baskets full. The imagery of God feeding manna to ancient Israel during the exodus couldn’t be ignored. Here was God with them in the flesh but expectations got in the way. They wanted to make him king by force, if necessary. Who wouldn’t want God to be king and give us our hearts desire? Jesus withdrew from them. He was not going to be king of a glorious kingdom built up by human demands. His kingship was going to be about God’s abundance as a gift. The difference between the two is huge.
Some of us will attend worship as a gift tomorrow. The burdens will find their proper place in God’s grace. Our emptiness of soul will be filled by Christ to last for what is eternal life. The feeding of the 5000 was a sign for us. As with all signs, it points to what lies beyond the present. Jesus is that bread of life. God is our sustenance. The problem with our expectations is that no matter how good the music or entertaining the sermon, it will never be enough. We’ll always want more.
Tomorrow, let worship be the gift it is intended to be and let God feed you for eternal life