Do you think Jesus was an extrovert or an introvert? Here, in Matthew 14:13-21, is Jesus after a really tough time; his family disowned him and then his cousin is killed by the powers that be.
When I was small, I was sad, because I was convinced that Jesus was an introvert, because he wanted time alone, and I as a super-extrovert almost never wanted to be alone. My eldest, my mirror, says to me often “Just don’t stop talking to me, I can’t take that as a punishment, mom.”
Jesus goes to be alone, and I wonder. Is this the bread that feeds Jesus? (Isaiah 55:1-5)
Does he need to be alone? or does he need to help people, and do ministry to be fed?
Extroverts & Introverts might answer differently.
My parents (who are pastors), said they like to think of Jesus being beyond those categories, able to take nourishment from both, empathizing and understanding both types of personalities. I like to think of Jesus that way, beyond categorization. Because, first spoiler, Jesus meets everyone where they are. He is really good at feeding each individual’s hunger, which is so miraculous because what I hunger can be very different than what my neighbor or friend needs.
However, it does get back to the question in Isaiah 55:1-5, which is what is our spiritual Food? If you are like my congregation you have communion on the first week of the month (or maybe you’re part of a church that gets to celebrate more often). How does communion enter into this idea of nourishment? Do we come to church to find spiritual nourishment? Where do you find nourishment? I once wrote an entire sermon about God at Starbucks, because sometimes that is the space I need to find spiritual nourishment.
Then there’s Jacob in Genesis 32:22-31. I find it fascinating that Jacob is always wrestling; he started by wrestling his brother, and now he’s wrestling God. How does that happen? To me the passage reads, Jacob is sending all his household to safely and suddenly he finds himself wrestling God. What prompted that? Why is it, when Jacob is finally ready to face his brother, he ends up wrestling God? And how does he even know that this person is God? Does God have special aspects to Godself that show? Spoiler: Jacob claims to see God again in his brother’s face when they are reconciled, which is amazing, because Jacob has ACTUALLY seen the face of God.
Part of what I think might be happening is that Jacob is trying to figure out how to do this reconciliation/forgiveness thing, because it has NOT YET happened in the Biblical text, which is so amazing because we take it for granted that this is a Biblical theme, but it only sort of happens in this story (forgiveness, but then they move apart, not entirely trusting gate reconciliation) and really happens at the end of Genesis with Joseph and his family (ultimate spoiler about the end of Genesis)
So we have on the one hand the story of Jacob and Esau struggling and wrestling to get what they need (or think they need) for nourishment. Then, the New Testament story is about Jesus being able to feed all the people, with almost nothing, more than fulfilling their need for nourishment.
Spoiler: I guess the stories aren’t all that different after all.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY for over six years. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.
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