Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Seed for sowing: 2 Cor. 9:10

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, Paul is instructing them on how to prepare their offering for the brethren in Jerusalem who are experiencing a famine. Paul then encourages them, saying, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10 NASB). There are two things in this verse that are interesting in the original Greek language. First is the word Paul uses for “seed.” The most common word for seed is the Greek word from which we get our word for sperm. However, here, Paul uses another Greek word from which we get our word for spore. In the Greek, there are two kinds of seed; one for planting and one for sowing. In our Christin life, we must be diligent in planting the seed, which is the word of God, into our lives that it might bear fruit. However, we must also sow that same seed into the lives of others. James writes that “the  seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18 NASB). This is done not only by sharing the word of God but also through our behavior and good deeds. As believers, we are called to plant and cultivate the garden, which is our soul, as we simultaneously sow the seeds of the Kingdom in the lives of others as well.

The second think of interest in this verse in the Greek is the word that is translated here as “harvest.” This word refers to the offspring of reproduction. This should remind us that we can only reproduce in others what we first have conceived within us. We cannot reproduce love in others if we do not have love in us. We cannot reproduce righteousness in others if we do not have righteousness in us. And we cannot sow the seed of the Kingdom in others if we have not first sowed it into our own hearts. The Kingdom life is meant to reproduce, which means that we must first have that life in us before we can share it with others.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Five loaves and two fish: John 6:1-22

In John 6, we read the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. In the story, Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the multitude of people who had come out to hear him. Later that day, Jesus sent his disciples on ahead of him to the other side of Sea of Galilee while he went up into the mountains to pray. Later that night, Jesus would walk across the water to join the disciples in their boat. The next morning, the people returned to the same place, hoping to find Jesus again, but they were all gone. John records, “There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks” (John 6:23). In the Greek, the phrase "after given thanks" is a participle. Therefore, this version can  also be translated, “they came near the place where, the Lord having given thanks, they eat the bread.”

If it were me that day, I would have said, “the Lord having multiplied the loaves” or “the Lord having performed a great miracle." However, what was foremost in the minds of the people who returned was not the great miracle Jesus did, but how he had first given thanks for the five loaves and two fish. What was so surprising or memorable about someone standing up to offer God thanks for what he had provided? Could it be that they had long since ceased to offer God for the little they had? Had their estimation of God’s provision, or lack thereof, caused them to become ungrateful for what little they did have? What about us? Do we thank God for what we have or complain about what we do not have? Perhaps if we would give thanks for God’s provision, he might break it and bless it and cause it to multiply. Jesus’ thankfulness opened the door to God’s miracle provision for the multitude that day. I believe that our thankfulness can also open to us God’s miracle provision in ways we cannot even expect.