Jump Start # 3252
Matthew 14:20 “and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets.”
I saw a man die the other day. It wasn’t a thought that I will quickly forget. He didn’t have to die. Without admitting it, he chose to die. He hadn’t taken care of himself in a long, long time. Poor choices, terrible habits and a stubborn attitude all contributed heavily to his death. In the end, he died from malnutrition. He starved to death. He wasn’t living in a third world country where food and options are very limited. No, he died right here, where everything was available to him. He wouldn’t go to the doctor. He wouldn’t listen to sound advice. When given food, he refused to eat. Weaker and weaker he became until he died.
I left wondering what could have been different. What could I have done to prevent this death? Everyone saw it coming, but his closed heart and thick pride kept everyone at a distance. No one could reach him. No one could turn him. And, he died. A death that didn’t have to happen, but it did.
His death wasn’t physical. He didn’t die from a lack of bread and water. He died spiritually. In a large congregation that has so many tools and so many ways to be fed, abundant classes being taught through out the week, blogs, podcasts, a website filled daily with spiritual food, this man refused to eat spiritually. He limited his contact and fellowship. He would rather hang out with the world than the disciples of Jesus. He fed his passions but not his soul. He wrecked his marriage and without any insight, nor lessons learned, he’ll likely make another poor choice for marriage and ruin that as well.
It is baffling to me how some in a congregation that has everything, still choose to starve themselves. Food is on the table, but they will not eat. They attend but they are not there in mind or spirit. Never bringing a Bible, never engaging with anyone, and then the bottom drops out of their life. The old expression, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,’ seems so fitting here. More people care about his soul that he did. More were praying for him than he prayed for himself. Sitting at a banquet table full of options and wonderful food, he goes home hungry, empty and miserable.
Our verse today comes from the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus increased the food. The verse says, “they all ate and were satisfied.” Spiritually, that is what shepherds and preachers are driving at. We want everyone to eat. Yet, there sits in the audience the man who is dying spiritually. He doesn’t know Jesus. He doesn’t understand the value of making right choices. People his age are all around him but he keeps his distance. The potential is there for him to grow strong. He could turn his family around. He could one day serve as a deacon or even a shepherd. But it won’t be. More wrong choices follow more wrong choices. He is not interested. He attends out of habit not love. And, right there at the banquet table he dies spiritually from starvation. What he needed was there, but he never took the effort. Dozens and dozens of people would love to have the opportunity that he has, but he doesn’t care. He is a man of the world. Lost. Misguided. Miserable. He dies right among the people of God and he doesn’t even see it.
They all ate. No one left that hillside hungry. Jesus provided and they partook. They needed food and Jesus understood that. And, today, it’s no different spiritually. People need to be fed spiritually. We need to preach and teach relevant lessons that will guide people through the fog of today’s world. The “isms” of yesterday is not what is on the minds and hearts of people today. Our culture is turning things inside out. The world is getting darker. We need to know how to navigate through these things. We need to learn how to raise godly families in an ungodly world.
Provide the food, that’s our job as preachers and shepherds. Provide it in a number of ways. Provide it to where the people are. But there comes a time when you and I have to pick up a fork and eat. Starving at a banquet table full of food makes no sense. It doesn’t make sense to Heaven and it doesn’t make sense to the people of God. Wasted opportunities. Closing your eyes to the very things you need. Turning your back on what will help you. And, in the end, it’s not the food on the table. It’s not the sermons from the pulpit. It’s not the classes that are taught. It’s not the articles, blogs, podcasts that are made available. It’s a heart that is closed to Jesus. And that heart can only be opened from the inside.
We pray. We have conversations. We preach. But in the end, some will starve at a banquet table full of food. They did not come to eat. They were never filled. And, because of that, some will lose their souls.
Such a tragedy. I saw a man die…