Food is one of the most underrated theological parables of our Scripture, especially in our Gospels. Jesus is always eating, on his way to eat, leaving a meal, feeding someone else, talking about food or teaching about food! Outside of money, we’d be hard pressed to find another topic Jesus talked more about. Isn’t it interesting that these are some of the least talked about topics in the church…at least beneficially anyway.
Take the Gospel of Luke for example…twice in the Gospel of Luke uses the Greek word for abundance appear. And coincidentally enough they appear in two very different contexts! (which should immediately tune us in to pay attention to the differences)
In Luke 9:10-17, the Gospel writer recounts for us one of Jesus feeding miracles. Here we have people dedicated to the work of the Kingdom when it comes time to eat. Lots of people are hungry and the disciples are paralyzed by the numbers. What does Jesus do? He essentially says, “you focus on feeding the people you see…only what they need…and let me worry about the rest.” Lo and behold the disciples are left with an abundance of food. There’s more than enough to go around!
Hold that thought and flip over a couple of chapters to Luke 12:13-21 and you’ll find another lesson about abundance. Here we have a man who produced an incredible crop. And like any logical man, he builds barns to store his abundance. His first barns aren’t big enough so he builds bigger ones…why? At best to give to the leftovers to his son when he dies…at worst to rot in their store houses.
Luke self-identifies an intentional compilation of the Gospel story bent on pushing its hearers to recognize the transformative power of life in the Kingdom. If Luke was intentional, which I believe he was, then I don’t believe it’s some type of accident that these are the only two occurrences of abundance.
Think about it…selfish motives and stockpiling of abundance negates the miraculous ability of God to provide abundant resources for the rest of God’s children! We live in a society that thinks it strange not to have freezers and pantries full of food for future meals or random snacks. How much of our abundance ends up rotting in the trash? Or…how many of us have overeaten at a meal or habitually overeating throughout the day? We may not build bigger barns to store our food, but we seem to be building bigger bodies…And what happens to our bodies each and every time we over indulge? Sugar goes up; blood pressure goes up; plague builds up; our bodies are not made to handle consuming an overabundance. They literally begin to rot!
Our society and our community, on the other hand, are more than capable of distributing the abundance to those who have little to none. Perhaps then our society would begin believing in miracles again. When the people of God stop consuming their abundance and instead embrace ethics of the Kingdom maybe then we could here “Jesus reply, ‘you give them something to eat.’” Luke 9:13