By Steve DuPlessie | June 16, 2017
It struck me while I was mowing my neighbor’s lawn the other evening that doing stuff for other people quickly raises all sorts of questions for some…
She’s healthy. Why doesn’t she cut her own lawn?
Doesn’t doing things for other people just make them lazy and entitled?
Aren’t there others who are more deserving of help?
And the list of questions about serving others in Jesus’ name just gets longer the more you think about it. And that made me think of the reports in Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17 of Jesus feeding 5,000 households — men, plus women and children; maybe 15,000 or more!
It’s immediately obvious that the gospel writers edited the story for clarity and brevity, leaving out details that everyone can take for granted without needing to be written out.
WHAT THEY LEFT OUT…
For example, Matthew chose not to include the team of disciples that created the application form for those wanting a free dinner to declare their income and assets so they could be “means-tested” to be sure they really were needy and deserved help with food. After all, surely Jesus wouldn’t want to waste resources on someone who could afford to pay for it.
And Mark didn’t mention the team of disciples that screened the applicants for drugs and alcohol since addicts and drunks are obviously not qualified for a free meal — “They made their bed, they should lie in it.” (Sorry, I couldn’t find the Bible reference for that well-known verse.)
No one mentioned the team of disciples that cautiously weeded out the moral degenerates whose choice of offensive lifestyles made them unacceptable and unworthy of a free supper. Plus there was the “association” thing — don’t want to be too close to those kind of people and maybe thought to approve of their lifestyle. You know what I mean.
And Luke didn’t include the team of disciples that weighed everyone to calculate their BMI — wouldn’t want to make the fat people fatter; they should fast a couple of meals anyways, right?
And none of the gospel-writers noted the obvious: checking everyone’s identity papers to make sure that only Israeli citizens got the free lunch. Surely Jesus wouldn’t want to feed the homeless, the illegals, aliens, and foreigners in the land, right?
Or, is it possible that Jesus wanted to feed them all — just the way they were — because he had compassion on them. Maybe He just wanted to give the gift of grace and mercy to the undeserving. After all, the Father of Jesus is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort...”
“Lord, forgive me for using the brokenness of others against them, as an excuse to exclude them instead of an invitation to include them. Please forgive me for my cold heart. Help me to ridiculously, generously give out grace and humbly pour out mercy on the undeserving as You do. And demonstrate gratitude for Your saving and forgiving grace in my life by “gracing” others in Your name. Amen.”
[DISCLAIMER – For those who sometimes take things literally and might miss the literary nuance of irony or humor, please understand that I do not really think the gospel-writers “left anything out.” I trust that, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they included all that is true and necessary. I used irony here to make a point, much as Jesus used metaphors and even sarcasm in his illustrations and sermons to make a point. (And I’m not saying that I think I am on the same level, or speak/write with the same authority, as Jesus…).]