Two feasts: BIG difference (16 Dec 2012)

Two feasts: BIG difference

2011, we looked at ‘one small thing with a BIG heart’. This time, we shall look at ‘two feasts with a BIG difference’ (Matt 15).

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law…asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?  (Matt 15:1-3).

Further down in Matthew 15:31-34, we have the feeding of the 4000.

  “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way”.

Two feasts, but what a difference! The first was negative where the Pharisees broke God’s command for tradition.  The religious elite insist that their way is right, even though it is based only on tradition. People commonly recognized that the Pharisees passed on ancestral laws not written in the Law of Moses and hand washing was one such tradition. Jesus challenges their tradition as unbiblical by showing how easily a tradition can conflict with the moral purpose of Scripture (15:3-6).

In the second feast, the feeding of the 4000, Jesus had compassion on the people who had been following Him. Instead of sending them away, he fed them with ‘seven loaves’ and ‘a few small fishes’.

During the Christmas season, we probably will have a number of feasts. Do we see feasting as only a tradition (as in the first feast), a chore, or a celebration of Christ’s birth, where we could care for those around us, including those who are different from us and help them to know that Jesus is the Saviour.

Secondly, Christmas is also a time of gifts. As the Lord brings persons into our lives this season, let us look at persons as gifts that our Father sends to us wrapped. Some are wrapped beautifully, some in ordinary paper, and others have been mishandled in the mail. In this regard, I thought of an NIE student who miraculously survived when the car he was in turned turtle at Nanyang Avenue on 2 Nov. He managed to come out of the car and was swept away by the ‘current’ (the current dragged the car for 50m). Bruised and bandaged, he came to class. I was moved with compassion for this ‘gift’.  

The wrapping is not the gift. Our Father gave himself to us in the form of his only son, a gift to everyone though none of us deserve it.

May we keep in mind the reason for the season and that persons are gifts from our father, gifts received and gifts given.  May we, like Jesus, have compassion for others and share the Gift with others.

Father we thank You for your Word and we ask that, by the Spirit, You would enlighten our heart not only to understand, but to embrace it.  Most of all, we thank you for the gift of your only son. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.   

Deaconess Dr Vivien Ler