Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tuesday of Trinity 7

Eat and Be Satisfied

Mark 8:1-9 (ESV) In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

In the Gospel reading for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, St. Mark recounts the slightly less famous feeding miracle, the “feeding of the four thousand.”

The people had been faithfully listening to Jesus for three days with nothing to eat. Their devotion really puts us to shame, doesn’t it? We give up an hour or two a week and think about Sunday dinner in the meantime, and they had gone three days without food! But their feast was the greatest kind, for they had been feasting on the Bread of Life, the Word of God from the lips of Jesus, so they had already received food that satisfies the soul and brings eternal life.

But they still needed to eat regular food too, so Jesus has compassion on the crowd. And this compassion is not just an attitude of pity but actually accomplishes something. Jesus shows mercy to the crowd with a feeding miracle.

Jesus can take weak, little things and multiply them beyond measure. He takes seven loaves of bread and a few small fish and feeds the four thousand until they are satisfied. How could he feed so many with so little? He is the Lord! He is the same one who in the beginning said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. So when He says, “Let the bread and fish be multiplied,” they are multiplied. The Lord’s greatest pleasure is in giving and giving and giving. The people ate until they were absolutely stuffed and couldn’t eat another bite.

So what does this miracle mean for us today? In this miracle Jesus shows us what sort of Savior He is; He wants to feed us so that we may eat and be satisfied, both at home, and at church.

The first point this miracle teaches is that the Lord provides daily bread. Just as the Lord provided manna for the children of Israel as they wandered about in the wilderness and just as He provided bread and fish for the four thousand in the wilderness, the Lord will always provide for the Christian’s needs. Now that doesn’t mean that He’ll give us everything that we want, because many times our wants are corrupted by sinful greed or lust. But as far as your daily bread goes—food, water, clothing, house, home, wife, and children—you needn’t worry that you’ll ever be without; the Lord will provide what we need. And that’s all we really need for our bodily life. As St. Paul writes to Timothy, “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Tim 6:7–8).

The second point is that Jesus wants to feed us with the Bread of Life in the Christian Church. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world on the cross. He cried out, “It is finished!” and all the sin of the world was answered for. “He died for all,” wrote St. Paul. But while our salvation from sin was achieved on Calvary, that salvation still needs to be given out. We can’t go back in time to the cross to be forgiven there. So Jesus comes to us in the present—at church—to give out His forgiveness through the very lowly and meager means of water and words and bread and wine.

These Word and Sacraments don’t seem like much, and to the eye they appear far too weak and earthly, but Jesus multiplies them with His creative Word. He amplifies their blessing and does what we cannot do. What Jesus did with ordinary bread in the feeding of the four thousand, He does even more with the Bread of Life, Himself. The flesh that Jesus gave on the cross for the life of the world, for your life, He multiplies it throughout the world in His Word and Sacraments to feed the nations, that all who believe and are baptized might live forever.

The Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman once wrote a book entitled, “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.” That’s true, except for one. Just as we didn’t contribute one bit to Christ’s redeeming death on the cross, so also the meal of the Bread of Life in His Word and the Lord’s Supper is a completely free gift from the Lord’s bounty. With Jesus there is always more and more food that satisfies, because He is the Bread of Life. Eat and be satisfied.

Prayer (LSB 641):

Refrain: You satisfy the hungry heart
    With gift of finest wheat.
Come give to us, O saving Lord,
    The bread of life to eat.

1. As when the shepherd calls his sheep,
    They know and heed his voice;
So when You call Your fam’ly, Lord,
    We follow and rejoice.

2. With joyful lips we sing to You
    Our praise and gratitude
That You should count us worthy, Lord,
    To share this heav’nly food.

3. Is not the cup we bless and share
    The blood of Christ outpoured?
Do not one cup, one loaf, declare
    Our oneness in the Lord?

4. The myst’ry of Your presence, Lord,
    No mortal tongue can tell:
Whom all the world cannot contain
    Comes in our hearts to dwell.

5. You give Yourself to us, O Lord;
    Then selfless let us be,
To serve each other in Your name
    In truth and charity.

Refrain: You satisfy the hungry heart
    With gift of finest wheat.
Come give to us, O saving Lord,
    The bread of life to eat. Amen.

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