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Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 6: 30–44

James T. Batchelor

Pentecost 8, Proper 11, series B
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Jul 19, 2015 

The Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 6: 3044

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Hoopeston, IL

July 19, 2015; Rev. James T. Batchelor

The Holy Spirit inspired each of the Gospel writers to include an account of the Feeding of the 5,000 in their Gospel accounts.  What is it about this event that makes it so important that it gets that kind of attention?  Yes, this a rather spectacular miracle, but not every miracle makes it into every Gospel account.  Why this one?  Surely feeding people isnt as important as healing the sick, or casting out demons.  It surely isnt as important as raising the dead.  Why is this account included in all four Gospel accounts?

One of the reasons it is so important is that it is a model for the church.  Here we begin to see the way that Jesus distributes His gifts to the church. 

First Jesus asked the disciples to feed the people.  37But he answered them, You give them something to eat. And they said to him, Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat? (Mark 6:37) When you realize that a denarius is an entire days wage, you realize that this is the disciples admitting that they are clueless helpless even.  Of course, Jesus does His best work when we are helpless.  It is as the Lord said to Paul, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It is after Jesus showed the disciples that they were helpless that He provided the food.  In fact, the disciples were only talking about bread. Whereas Jesus provided bread and fish.  Furthermore, Jesus provided enough food so that everyone was satisfied and there were leftovers.  The meal that Jesus provided was far superior to the meal that the disciples imagined.

Now here is where we see the model for the church.  Jesus did not go up and down the rows handing out fish wraps to the people.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. (Mark 6:41) Jesus put His marvelous gifts into the hands of His sinful, helpless, clueless disciples.  It was the disciples who set the food before the people.

Now just in case you think I am being a little hard on the disciples, remember who they are.  Remember James and John.  When a Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus they asked, Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them? (Luke 9:54) Then there was Peter who caused Jesus to rebuke him and say, Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Mark 8:33) The disciples regularly argued among themselves about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:34; Luke 22:24) Then of course there was Judas to whom Jesus would eventually say, Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss? (Luke 22:48)

Do you think the food that Judas handed out was any less nutritious because it came from the hand of the one who would betray Jesus?  Of course not.  It is Jesus who made the food.  James, John, Peter, Judas, and the others were merely the servers waiters, if you will.  Jesus made the food and it was perfect no matter who handled it after Jesus made it.

Do you see the model for the church?  Jesus calls men to be his waiters.  He says, You give them My gifts forgiveness, salvation, eternal life. If it was impossible for the disciples to provide physical food, how much more impossible is it for mere men to provide the eternal gifts?  Of course, Jesus does His best work when we are helpless.  OR, as the angel Gabriel told Mary, Nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)

In fact, even as Gabriel spoke to Mary, the Son of God had taken up human flesh in her womb.  He had come down in order to do His best work the work of salvation.  With His perfect life, He provided the righteousness we needed.  Then with His sacrifice on the cross, He paid our sin debt in full.  With His resurrection, He declared His victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil.

Shortly after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples again.  He said to them, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. (John 20:2123) With these words, He gave the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation into the hands of these disciples.  With these words these disciples became His sent ones His Apostles.  With these words, He gave the church the authority to forgive sins.

But wait, theres more!  Jesus gives the gift of forgiveness in many ways.  Before He ascended, He also said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:1820) With these words, He authorized the church to open up more channels of forgiveness.  First of all, there is Holy Baptism the word of God combined with water according to Christs command.  Then there is teaching Christs Church satisfying the hunger of Christs people with the study of Christs Word.  These are two more gifts that Jesus gave into the hands of His people the Holy Christian Church.

Finally, there is yet another gift that the Apostle Paul explained to the Church in Corinth.  I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:2326) Here Paul teaches that Jesus has put His very body and His very blood into the hands of sinful men to be given as gifts of forgiveness to Gods people.  Not only that, but Paul also teaches that these gifts should be handed down from generation to generation.

So it is that, just as Jesus once put bread and fish into the hands of His sinful, helpless, clueless disciples, He still puts the gifts of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life into the hands of His pastors who are still sinful, helpless, and yes, often clueless.  Just as the fish and bread that came from the hands of James, John, Peter, and even Judas was just as healthy and nutritious as when it left Jesus hand, so also the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation are valid even though your pastor daily sins much.

The gifts of God depend on the promise of Jesus Christ and nothing else not the holiness of your pastor not your holiness not your faith or your pastors faith.  It is the promise of Christ alone that makes these gifts perfect.  Your pastor is simply the waiter who serves these gifts according to Christs command.  He is the ordained servant of Christ.

So we see how the Feeding of the 5,000 is a model for the church.  Jesus has prepared His perfect gifts of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.  He prepared them with His holy life and His precious death.  Now that He has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, He gives these gifts to His servants so that they can set them before you, His forgiven brothers and sisters.

Our presence here, in this place, can do nothing for God.  It is as He told the psalmist, 12If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. 10For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50) Instead, we come before God in this place because, although God is truly everywhere, this is where He has promised to reveal His presence and give His gifts to you.  We come because he has called us with His Gospel and enlightened us with His gifts.  We come because it is Gods delight to pour out His gifts on us, and it is His gifts that make us part of his family forever. Amen

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