Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is the feeding of the 4,000 according to St. Mark. This is the second story of a miraculous feeding by our Lord. Better known is the story of the feeding of 5,000, which is also found in St. Mark, like the other gospels. The stories are almost the same, so why the two accounts? Obviously, the disciples did not learn much the first time.
“In those days, the crowd being so great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples and said: I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me for three days, and they have nothing to eat; and if I send them fasting to their homes, they will pass out along the way; because some of them have come from afar. "
As the Son of God, Jesus had the power to command the stones to become bread by His word. In the temptation in the desert, the devil said, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread." But, Jesus did not, no matter if He had the power, because it was a trap of the devil. In this case, Jesus also did not, but called His disciples.
“And his disciples answered him: Where can anyone satisfy their bread here in the desert? And he asked them: How many loaves do you have? And they said: Seven. Then he sent the crowd to sit on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, having given thanks, he broke them, and gave his disciples to put before them; and they put them in front of the crowd. They also had a few little fishes; and he blessed them, and commanded that they also be put before them. And they ate and were satiated; and they gathered from the pieces that had been left over, seven baskets. ”
As in the first instance of feeding five thousand, the disciples were concerned with the lack of resources to do the task that the Lord had given them. The Lord put them to the test again and they had not learned anything. However, Jesus told them again, how much resources do you have? Jesus took the loaves and fishes, and blessed them in words very similar to the words of the institution at the sacrament. Having given thanks, He broke them and gave them to His disciples. And Jesus multiplied their resources to meet the material needs of the people.
The disciples did not only have the loaves and fishes, also the power and the word of the Son of God. Jesus wanted to teach them that if He would be with them, they would have the resources to fulfill their mission. And then Jesus sent these men all over the world to baptize and make disciples with the promise that He would be with them.
And to satisfy the spiritual hunger. In the Lord’s Supper we receive the blood and body of Christ in, under and with the bread and wine. The Lord took something common, the sharing of the table, and turned it into a holy table. In each culture, to share the table is a type of communion, friendship and fraternity. At the table of the Lord, we receive the spiritual bread and communion of the saints. Also, when we share the table in our house and our preschool, we thank God for the meal with a blessing. At the family table there is also an opportunity to share the Word of God.
Gratitude is a theme of the Christian life. I will bless Jehovah at all times. Today is the day the Lord has made. Every day is a blessing that we have only by grace. Because we deserve the wrath of God for our selfishness and our rebellion. But, in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, God has restored us to a good relationship with Him. This gift of eternal life is the gift of God above others, because the promise we receive at baptism takes away the fear of the physical death and gives us strength to overcome all the trials of this life. Because we know that we have before us eternity with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
And not only the promise of eternal life, God is the source of all good things in this life. We deserve nothing, but in His love, God sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. This is the providence of God, the common grace. The difference between us believers and non-believers is that we recognize God's love and grace in all good things. One purpose of our worship is to thank God for His gifts, in praise and thank-offering. And the offering is to support the mission of the church, to extend the kingdom of God to give everyone the opportunity to know the joy and hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
As the church, we are much like the first disciples. We have a mission, to proclaim the gospel everywhere and gather all the scattered sheep into the fold of God. But, many times we ask, “Lord, what do we do? We don't have the resources to do this task. ”
Look at the situation in Venezuela. The shortage of food and medicine. Hunger and disease. The amount of people leaving the country for lack of hope. To do something about this is too much for us. And by our own strength, it is too much to meet the material and spiritual needs of these people. But God is with us and God is almighty. God does not need us to fulfill His mission, but as a father gives his children tasks to teach them, God has also given us the mission of the church to teach us to trust Him.
Jesus said to his disciples, "I have compassion for the crowd." They followed Jesus to hear the good news of salvation. God in his mercy sent them a Savior. Jesus attended to this spiritual hunger by the preaching of this message. But, Jesus did not want people to faint from material hunger because of Him. If we also have the desire to share the gospel with others, we must also have the desire to help in their physical afflictions.
God has promised us that the preaching of His Word will never be in vain. Someone will always listen to the Word. Also the works of mercy, to give someone a glass of water in the name of the Lord, is never in vain. We do not have to solve all the problems of this country or this world. If only one person hears the Word and receives salvation, it is worth it. If only one person receives the food or medicine they need, it is worth it.
What we should learn from this story of the feeding of 4,000 is, time after time God showed the disciples His power, but when they were faced with the same problems, they had their doubts. We have also seen the power and grace of God in this mission in La Caramuca. This mission, with all the things against it, exists by the grace of God.
The almighty God is always with us. He has the power to convert stones to bread, but he has given the mission to meet the needs of others to us, his church to teach us to trust Him. In this we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
Send Pastor David Ernst an email.