The grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus rest upon each and every one of you this day.
We hear in our Gospel lesson today that the mass of over 4,000 people ate the miraculous meal of fish and loaves and were satisfied. This word “satisfied” (kortadzo in the Greek), as you well know, can have multiple meanings. In the context of this particular lesson, all the meanings are correct. The masses of people were filled up with an abundance of fish and bread, so much so that there were seven baskets left over. They all had full bellies. That word carries with it the meaning of stuffed, gorged, needing to unbutton. Their hunger was satisfied. Having full bellies and needing to unbutton means that they obviously enjoyed their divinely-provided meal. You don’t get that way with poor-tasting slop! To say that they were satisfied with their meal is an understatement. And, of course, they were satisfied by Christ. They were the passive recipients of His undeserved gifts of satisfying mercy and love. They didn’t satisfy themselves. They were satisfied by Him out of His great compassion, mercy, love, and grace.
Now, here’s where we come in. As true as all this satisfaction was for those particular people in that particular miraculous context, can the same be said for you in your “normal, every day” context? Before you answer, I want you to think about the many and various ways that your Lord does provide and satisfy you in your daily life. Just take a moment to think about all the daily bread your Lord blesses you and satisfies you with, even when you don’t ask; even after you fail to say “thank you.” Think back to your catechism days. “What is daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and need of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friend, faithful neighbors, and the like.” “And the like…,” just in case you think something was left out or omitted. Everything you have and everything you are is a gift given you by God’s free and undeserved grace. The only thing you deserve; the only thing you have earned is present and eternal punishment. That’s it! That’s your one and only right! You have a right to burn in hell! Everything else is a gracious and merciful gift of God specifically for you, given specifically to you by Him because of His compassion for you; because He loves you.
So…how many of you are satisfied with your daily bread? Based on the fruits we see borne out in our culture today, the number of people satisfied with their daily bread can’t be much. Just look around you. It has become socially-acceptable to covet. Politicians run on a platform of coveting, promising that they will fight for your “right” to have whatever it is you think you’re entitled to; whatever it is that will give you the satisfaction you so desire. They will satisfy your wants and desires. And people praise and endorse and rally around such selfish and self-serving covetousness. It seems that no one is happy with the daily bread God provides them. We want more. We want what the other guy has. It’s not fair! To quote the Israelites, “We have no manna, and we hate the manna we have!”
And keep in mind, I know you can all think of people who fit this bill, but what about the fellow staring back at you from the mirror? Are you satisfied with the gracious and undeserved gift that is “daily bread”? Are you thankful for all that God richly and daily provides for your body and life? Is God’s daily bread satisfaction for you adequate, more than adequate, or, in your estimate, is it still lacking? “I’m satisfied, but I could always be more satisfied.” I’ve got news for you. If that’s your mindset, you’re not truly satisfied. God knows the truth.
And here’s the thing: I can’t make you satisfied with your daily bread. I can’t even make myself perfectly satisfied with my daily bread. To be sure, I am satisfied. God tells me so. He is the One doing the satisfying. He tells me I am satisfied with all that I need for this body and life, and He richly and daily provides it. Unfortunately, old greedy, sinful Adam works overtime to ensure that I am never truly satisfied with God’s satisfaction. I always want just a little bit more. Like Adam and Eve, I’m not content with His satisfaction. I’m never fully satiated or filled up. My inner-tapeworm of sinfulness always ensures that I’m starving for more and more stuff that will never truly satisfy me; stuff that only rots and rusts away and is destroyed by moths and worms and stolen by thieves. The end of all that “stuff,” like St. Paul says, is death. None of it gives life—true life; life everlasting. None of it can truly satisfy me. And yet…in my sinful selfishness, almost like an addict, I want more. The sad and sinful fact is that I’m never truly satisfied. It’s never enough. If a little won’t satisfy, maybe more will satisfy. It never does. It never will. But…it doesn’t stop me from trying. If you’re honest, you’ll confess the same sinful dissatisfaction.
So…what’s the remedy? Where do we go from here? We can throw our hands up in the air and claim that it can’t be done. This has always been a popular approach. “It’s utterly impossible to be truly satisfied on this side of eternity, so don’t even try. Why bother?” Just keep on living the sinful, greedy life that we do, and fall back on God’s cheap grace, right? God will forgive us. As St. Paul says in Romans when confronted with this same foolishness, “By no means is this to be the case!” Well…I guess that means that we can fake it. We can put on our happy face and tell everyone how satisfied we are…even though we’re not. I wouldn’t recommend this either, not only because God knows the truth, but because such a fraudulent faith ultimately creates even bigger problems when life hits the skids and takes a troubling turn south.
Case in point: I can’t tell you how often I’ve met with people who’ve boasted about their satisfaction with all that God gives (when times are going good in their life, of course), and then life hits the fan. And in that instant, they go from “satisfied” to utterly forsaken. “Why, God? What have I done to deserve this? Everything is ruined! All our plans are up in smoke! All is lost!” Really? So the finances took a bit of a hit. So you can’t do EVERYTHING you used to be able to do. You still have daily bread, right? In fact, even a cursory glance/inventory of your life would still reveal an over-abundance of daily bread and blessing in your life, right? More than that, you still have the gift of everlasting life, right? Even if EVERYTHING else in your life was suddenly snatched up and taken away, you still have the heavenly mansion and feast that Christ has already prepared for you, right? Nothing can take that away from you. Isn’t that satisfying enough?
And that’s the answer to the question I asked a few moments ago about the remedy to our dissatisfaction with all of God’s gifts to us. I can’t make you satisfied…but God can. In fact, He already has, in Christ. In the all-redeeming life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all your sinful debt has been fully and completely satisfied. You have been satisfied in Christ and because of Christ. Look to this cruciform reality. “It is finished!” Here is your satisfaction. Look and listen to what goes on here in your midst; in your very presence. The Word of Life still comes to you. He comes to you, not only in His fully-satisfying Word, but in His fully-satisfying Body and Blood. Yes! Even this little foretaste of the feast to come is fully-satisfying for life. “Take and eat, this is My Body. Take and drink, this is My blood, for the forgiveness of all your sin.” When you leave here with the Body and Blood of Christ in your belly and on your breath, what more do you have to fear or worry about? You have been satisfied in Christ, by Christ.
My only prayer for you is that this full and complete satisfaction of Christ satisfies you. I pray that you don’t fight the Holy Spirit as He endeavors to open your eyes, ears, and heart to the fully-satisfying reality of the Bread of Life in your midst and in your life, working for you, on you, in you, and even through you to others who need His satisfaction. When this Bread of Life satisfaction truly satisfies you, which through the working of the Holy Spirit will be the case through faith, all His satisfying gifts of daily bread will also begin to satisfy you. You will be satisfied with a fully-satisfying peace that surpasses all human understanding, no matter your circumstance; in good times and in bad, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Satisfied by Christ and in Christ, you will ever and always be satisfied, giving thanks in all circumstances for all that you have and all that you are…in Christ.
May this fully-satisfying peace of Christ, which surpasses all human understanding, and which is yours right now, by the grace of God, guard, keep, and guide you unto life everlasting.
In the all-satisfying name of Christ Jesus, AMEN.
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