Crumbs are small fragments of food that often fall from the kitchen table. Quite often they drop from pieces of bread. If children are eating from your table, you can often find some on the floor. At least, that’s the way it was at our house. In fact, I haven’t completely outgrown it myself!
The word “crumbs” in only found on two occasions in the Bible. One is in Mark 7 where Jesus is in conversation with a Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was possessed with a demon and whom Jesus eventually healed. The other is in Luke 16 where, in the account of the rich man and Lazarus, it says that Lazarus desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.
In many ways crumbs seem to have little significance and are of no value. But Jesus seemed to be impressed by the woman’s use of the term. And poor Lazarus was so desperate for food that just a small morsel looked so satisfying. And as this scene shifts to heaven, the rich man sought comfort in asking for Lazarus to dip his finger in water for a mere drop of water to cool his tongue. These scenes underscore the value of small things.
American Christians have developed big appetites for things. We like to go to smorgasbord restaurants for the appeal of all-you-can-eat. We take cruises on big luxury liners where we are pampered with too much of everything. When reserving a motel room, we often ask if a king-size bed is available. Anything crumb-size is for somebody else.
So, how can we apply a theology of crumbs to our devotional life? We need to apply small nuggets of truth on a regular basis in order to feed our souls. Crumbs that drop from the lips of Jesus can serve as a beam of hope to see ahead when we are feeling desperate. When you have nothing, crumbs look good. Sometimes crumbs can lead you to bigger pieces. There are too many days between Sunday School lessons and the worship service sermon to expect that Sunday alone will satisfy our hungry souls for the week. It is important to have a regular, disciplined devotional life, even if it isn’t all that long.
Jesus was never accused of being verbose or wordy. Most of his conversations with people can be read in a minute or two. The Ten Commandments are completely stated in just a small part of a chapter in the Old Testament. Many years ago, I heard an older minister say that many sermons would be improved by adding a little shortening!
Don’t despise the little crumbs. You might need some yet today!
Jim Myer – CBC Executive Board