[Diocesan Bishop of USA-Canada-Europe Diocese, Marthoma Syrian Church]


"When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children." [Matthew 14:13-21]

This cited passage of story, concerning Christ’s feeding five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, is recorded by all the four Evangelists, with minute differences, which intimate us that there is great importance and worthiness of special remark of this episode in Public Ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Background of this miracle is the beheading of John, The Baptist. John’s faithfulness in reproving Herod for his sin, provoked the secular authorities of this world and the implacable revenge culminated in the martyrdom of John, the Baptist. When He heard this sad news of John’s death, Jesus withdrew himself into privacy and departed to the desert. His withdrawal from the crowd did not restrain the affectionate multitude to go away from Him. They followed Him to the desert on foot from all parts with more eagerness.

God's word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The great intention of giving the word of God to the world is that it is a lamp and a light. It directs us in our work and way while passing through the darkness of this world. We need the light of God's word to guide our steps along a safe path in a dark and dangerous world. Normally people hate darkness and try to refrain from the experience of darkness.

This world is governed by the power of darkness. Power of darkness is the power that Satan exercises over the human mind. The works of Satan and his servants are works of darkness. Being in this world, we cannot run away from the power of this world. Being in the darkness is a desert experience. Desert is a symbol of darkness, death and stillness. The pulse of life is very rare in the desert experience. Thorny shrubs and very poisonous snakes are the specialties of desert. Very rarely we see the origin of water in the desert. The presence of Christ and his gospel makes a desert place not only tolerable, but also desirable; it makes the wilderness a paradise.

Original world created by God was beautiful and blameless. God Himself found it good after each creation. God created woman and hence a family structure is originated. God was pleased to see the family. The world created by God is wonderful and magnificent. God created the world to go everything in order. But now there is disorder everywhere.

Many thinkers had opinioned about the modern world. Some may have consent and some disagreement to these views. Some say the basement of the earth is shaken. Everywhere we perceive mental hallucination. The world is dislocated and it faces an identity crisis.

Church had become very feeble. Church lost its original dynamism and live on its bygone past glory. Many say that human society is fragmented and fractioned. We see violence everywhere. Hatredness and enmity is prevailing throughout the world by the name of philosophies of religions, caste and creed. Violence became the face-mark of the modern world. These all reveal a desert experience everywhere. Many believe that there is no hope and world is leading to devastation.

Here is the significance of Jesus in the desert experience. It is also the answers Church can give to this world, which governed by the power of darkness. Here we see Jesus venture to go to the desert voluntarily where we all dislike going. The Son of God cannot avoid the experience of desert. Church cannot run away from the fearful desert experience. The message of the Church is to face hindrances and not to run away from the problems.

With the presence of Jesus, a great multitude went along with Him to the desert. The people went after Him with distinct motivation. Some may be for a thrill, some to see His magic, some to hear His words, some as critics and some to trap Him. But for many the presence of Jesus became the cause for transformation. The presence of Jesus turns stillness to be alive. As follower of Jesus our life should be a reminder to the world.

When Jesus become the reality of our life, our slackness will be bygone, all enmity and hatredness will be wiped off. The presence of Jesus should become a transforming agent of our life.

Jesus was compassionate to the multitude who followed Him. Compassion is not an inexpensive sympathy, but it is the initiation for recreation. To recreate and redeem the fallen human race was the biggest compassion God had expressed. Jesus had come to this world to search and find the lost ones. The misplaced ones are the lost ones. While seeing the lost ones, the owner gets pained. Owner grieves for the lost. The church, which cannot see the needs of the needy, cannot minister Lord.

Then we read that Jesus ordered the disciples to make the people to sit on the lawn. Order is inevitable for meaningful distribution. An undisciplined church cannot act successfully. If there was no discipline, some may get and some may not get, and there cannot be a justified distribution. We also see the disciples with nuptial obedience. A normal man thinks that it is a foolish idea to make them to sit for dinner with the limited resource of five loves. But the obedience was the thing which played here than their common sense. The same thing happened in the marriage in Cana. It was not that hard to fill the vessels as per the command of the mother. But it was utter foolishness against common sense that to serve the water to the guest as wine. Only with nuptial and blind obedience we can become the instruments in the hands of God. God had given us wisdom and intelligence to discern the will of God and act accordingly. Only church with obedience and discipline can do meaningful ministry of God.

Phillips was doing ministry in a successful way in Ephesus while he was taken to the desert. There was a big harvest in Ephesus as five thousand souls were saved there. But a common brain may question, what is the use of going to a deserted place with out any population there. We read that he could convey the Gospel there only to one man, He was the eunuch from Ethiopia. What is the importance and significance of this one-man mission? The traditional history tells us that the Empress of Ethiopia heard Gospel from the Eunuch and it was the first Gospel spread to a big continent. Eunuch was the first to spread the Gospel in African Continent, and Phillips initiated it.

Jesus cut the breads and gave to the disciples and disciples gave it to the people. The ministers of Christian Church are the keepers of the Gods blessings. What ever is given to us is to freely distribute. Jesus pooled the resources and distributed to them. So the Church should have a clear message conveyed by Jesus to be redistributed to the world, which is governed by the power of darkness.

[Extract from Sermon delivered at Maramon Convention 2006
Original in Malayalam : Translated by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]

Back Home Top
EmailEmail this Link to a Friend FeedbackSend Your Feedback