10th Sunday after Pentecost August 6, 2023
1, 353, 51
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Sermon Audio: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/ministrybymail
Prayer of the Day: O God, who cares for this world and is concerned about all that goes on within this world, we pray that You would prevent all that would be harmful to us and provide only what is helpful, so that we might serve You with joyful and thankful hearts. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forevermore. Amen.
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he 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. (ESV)
In Christ Jesus, to whom you can entrust both your present and your future, dear fellow redeemed:
There are many people in our world today who claim they have neither the time nor the desire to read the Bible. For some, the reason is because they consider the Bible to be an ancient book with little or no practical application for modern life. For others, who grew up in the church but who are now influenced by the world, all the miracles they heard about in Sunday School seem just too much like fairy tales to be believed as adults. Such miracles, they now believe, simply do not occur. Such thinking, my dear friends, is false and unfortunate! The Bible reveals divine truths, which are applicable to everyone, at any time and in any place. It is, therefore, vital that we make time to read the Bible both regularly and thoughtfully!
Let us do that today that as we consider one of Jesus’ miracles. Before proceeding, however, let us review the truths expressed by two familiar Bible passages. The first contains a promise from Jesus: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b) The second is a description of Jesus: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) These two passages reveal much about our Savior and His relationships with us. The first reveals that while we can no longer see Jesus, He is still here with us. We are never alone! The second reveals that the very same Jesus who performed miracles in the first century is the same Jesus who will be with us until the end of the age. He never changes! Therefore, as we consider the miracle Mark records for us in our text, we can rest assured that Jesus can and will do among us and for us what He did among and for the believers of the first century!
What can you conclude from Mark’s presentation of Jesus’ miracle of the feeding 4,000 people? I would suggest that you have every reason to LOOK TO JESUS IN YOUR TIMES OF NEED, for Jesus will have compassion upon you; Jesus will provide the necessary resources for you; and Jesus will satisfy your needs and provide for your future, even as He did for those 4,000!
Mark opens his account with these words: “In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he 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.’”
The key thought presented here is the fact that Jesus had “compassion” on the crowds of people who had come to hear Him preach. They had been with Him for three days. No doubt many of them brought along some provisions when they first went looking for Jesus, but virtually none of them were prepared for a lengthy stay with Jesus. After three days they had nothing left to eat. Jesus, whose preaching revealed His concern for the people’s souls, was also concerned about their physical wellbeing. He did not want them to “faint” on their ways home.
Jesus’ compassion for people is recorded elsewhere in the Gospels. Matthew, for instance, tells us: “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” (Matthew 9:35-36)
It is certainly appropriate to conclude from this text that Jesus will be and indeed is concerned about your welfare, just as He was for the people living during His earthly ministry. If that were not the case, why would Jesus pray in the following manner on Maundy Thursday evening: “I do not ask for these only (referring to His appeal to His Father to protect His chosen apostles), but also for those who will believe in me through their word (that refers to you, to me, and to every other New Testament believer).” (John 17:20) Why, as well, would the Spirit direct the apostle Paul to encourage us in the following way, if He did not care about you or have compassion upon you? Paul writes: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Indeed, LOOK TO JESUS IN YOUR TIMES OF NEED, for Jesus will have compassion upon you!
Jesus will also provide the necessary resources for you in your times of need! Mark reveals how this was true for the hungry people listening to Jesus. Mark writes: “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.”
It is easy for us to be rather critical of the disciples at this point. After all, just two chapters earlier Mark records the incident in which Jesus fed 5,000 people with only five small loaves and two fish. Did the disciples not remember that? Are we not told in the Bible to “walk by faith, not by sight?” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Indeed, we are! But, before you or I become too critical of the disciples, let us consider how often we also walk by sight rather than by faith. How often do we not worry about our budgets—our personal budgets or the church budget? So often there seems to be simply too little money to cover all the bills, and we start to fret about it! Or consider the current situation among the farmers and ranchers of our region. For the past two years we have experienced drought. Many have worried about having enough hay to get by. This year we have had more than sufficient rains. Now people worry about whether there will be enough sunshine to be able to bale the hay that is so abundant! Let us walk by faith, entrusting ourselves to our Savior God! Let us take all these matters to the Lord in prayer!
But the key thought you should take away from our text is that Jesus will provide the necessary resources for you, just as He did for the disciples who were charged with feeding this great multitude. Jesus asked His disciples what resources they had on hand. They mentioned that there were “seven loaves” of bread available. In their minds, this was entirely inadequate to meet the pressing needs before them. But Jesus took that bread, broke it, gave thanks for it, and then had the disciples distribute it. He asked the disciples to act in faith, with thanksgiving, using the resources God had provided for them, while entrusting the entire situation to their Savior God.
My dear friends, is that not what Jesus would have us do as well, as we face our needs today? Our Savior wants us to approach our individual and corporate needs with the resources that He provides and act in accordance with His will, trusting that He will be with us as we move forward. We may well find ourselves in situations like the disciples—facing needs with resources that appear to be inadequate for the given situation. But let us remember whom we serve and what He calls upon us to do. Our Savior God is the Giver of every good gift (James 1:17). Our Jesus commands us to “ask” and promises that “it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Let us not allow our sight to overwhelm or replace our faith! The entire universe belongs to our Savior God, as do we! (cf. Psalm 24:1) We are precious in His sight (Matthew 6:26), and He promises to meet our every need as we seek first His kingdom and pursue His righteousness! (Matthew 6:33) My dear friends, LOOK TO JESUS IN YOUR TIMES OF NEED, for Jesus will provide the necessary resources for you in any time of need!
And, finally, Jesus will satisfy your needs and provide for your future! Mark concludes his account of this miracle with four short sentences: “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.” Each of these sentences is significant!
The first is significant for it shows that Jesus not only provided a minimal response to the needs of the people following Him and listening to Him, but He “satisfied” their needs. They ate until they were filled and needed no more. This is the nature of our Savior! When it comes to our sins and need for forgiveness, Jesus provides no half measures. John writes: “If we confess our sins, he is faith and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Notice that John does not say that Jesus cleanses us from “some” unrighteousness, but from “all” unrighteousness. Jesus satisfies our spiritual needs! And when it comes to any of our others needs, what does our Savior God promise? Through the apostle Paul he assures us: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) Once again He promises not “some” but “all” of the things that we truly need!
The second is significant because God wants us to recognize and to rejoice in the fact that Jesus provides for our futures. The disciples started with seven small loaves of bread, but ended up with seven baskets of bread fragments. They ended up with more than they started. Jesus took care of their immediate needs, but then provided food for future meals for His disciples. So our Savior God deals with us. My dear friends, we do not have a stingy God! Let us not allow external circumstances to prevent our faithful following of the LORD, for He will satisfy both our present and future needs!
The third sentence is significant simply because God wants us to understand that Jesus is capable of doing big things with small resources! Jesus fed 4,000 people with seven small loaves of bread. Never underestimate what your Savior can and will do for you!
Finally, the fourth sentence suggests that Jesus sent these followers home to accomplish their various individual tasks in service both to God and man. Jesus does that for us too. We come together each Sunday to hear Jesus speak to us, but then we leave His house and go out to fulfill our individual callings whatever they may be and wherever they may take us.
My dear friends, LOOK TO JESUS IN YOUR TIMES OF NEED, for He will have compassion upon you; He will provide the necessary resources for you; and He will satisfy your needs and provide for your future—even as He did for 4,000 people long ago! Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.