John the Baptist was dead. Beheaded. It was unjust, brutal, and senseless. On hearing the news, Jesus left what he was doing and went with his disciples to a solitary place. He must have wanted to mourn, and pray, away from the crowds. But when he arrived, there was no solitude: somehow, word had spread about where he was going, and now a large crowd was waiting for him. Matthew records that Jesus didn’t send them away or throw himself a pity party—“he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” They were suffering, too.
As the day wore on, Jesus’ disciples began to be concerned: what would these people eat for dinner, out there in the middle of nowhere? No one had planned logistics for a gathering like this. Taking stock of the situation, they made a practical suggestion that Jesus send the crowd away so that they could get to the villages and buy food for themselves. Jesus replied: “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
I’ve heard people say that “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I don’t think that’s true. Look at the job he gave his disciples: “you give them something to eat.”
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A few months ago I was on a long flight over the ocean, and towards the end of it the airline attendants brought me a sandwich. When I looked closely at the plastic packaging I noticed that mine said it was “hand-crafted”, and that the bread was made using “authentic methods”. They must have passed out hundreds of “authentic” “hand-crafted” sandwiches that morning. I’m not really sure what those words mean exactly (what would an “inauthentic method” be?), but I know there’s part of me that does prefer to know that a human was involved in the process of making my food. Which is strange, to think of it—machines are pretty good at things, after all. With the right design and programming I’m sure they could be great at producing sandwiches. Probably better than a lot of people. I suppose the difference is that machines don’t care. A lot of people don’t care, either, but at least with a human there’s a chance. And that means something. It means so much, in fact, that the sandwich packaging said “hand-crafted”, not “machine perfected”. We like the thought of our lunch being made specially, with care, not just mindlessly mass-produced in a machine.
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There’s hardly anything more common than eating. It takes time, money, and effort, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it multiple times a day. In fact, we shape our lives around our need for food: companies and schools build lunch breaks into the schedule, holidays are celebrated with feasts, friends meet at coffee shops, and lovers woo over candlelit dinners. Clearly, there’s more going on here than simply keeping our bodies functioning. And don’t forget the gym memberships and diet programmes designed to compensate for our meals – you might say our relationship with food is complicated. Whatever else you say about it, though, you have to admit that food is powerful. Beyond it’s nutritional value, it packs an extremely high relational value as well (although it often seems that the foods with the least nutritional value have the most relational value, like ice cream and chocolate and cheesecake and pretty much every other dessert).
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Nutritional Relational Value Of Food (Why Our Family Eats Together)