The Seventh Sunday after Trinity
☩ In the name of Jesus ☩
“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 ate and were satisfied” (Mark 8:6, 8). In today’s Gospel, Mark recounts the miraculous feeding of the four thousand by our Lord feeding the crowd with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. This crowd was traveling with Jesus to hear his teachings and observe his miracles; some of the crowd was from a great distance. Seeing the crowd, Jesus had compassion upon the crowd because they did not have food to satisfy their needs, and he provided for their needs of body and soul. Our Lord continues to provide for our bodily and spiritual needs through his providence and his means of grace.
Without the gifts of God, we faint on our way through life. When we fail to see God as the giver of our earthly needs, we do not appreciate God’s continuing care for his creatures. According to verse two of our text, the crowd had been with Jesus for three days without food. Their earthly needs required to be met. Many of them were a great distance from their home, so they could not provide for their own needs. In our modern lives, we attempt to believe that we provide our own necessities in life, without seeing God as the giver of these things. We attempt to place our trust in our financial institutions for financial means and stability in life, rather than trusting God for our needs. We put our trust in careers to lead us to economic success, and neglect our devotional life with God in times of prosperity. Often, we adopt an atheistic view of God’s involvement in the world–meaning that we view that God is not active in the world today because we cannot scientifically see God’s hand at work. Without God’s continuous sustaining of creation, the universe collapse and life would cease to continue – we would “faint upon our journey in life.”
In addition to our material needs, without the spiritual sustenance from Christ we would die eternally. Throughout Christ’s ministry, multitudes gathered to hear the teachings of Christ and to see his miracles, as is the case with our text. The crowd was hearing and receiving the Gospel message from mouth of Christ. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, also heard and experienced the loving embrace of their Father, their Creator, but rejected it. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were created in the perfection of Creation, where everything was declared to be good by God. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat of a different food, than what the Lord had provided. In today’s Old Testament reading, God provides Adam and Eve with these instructions in verses 16 and 17, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God and humanity were in perfect harmony from its creation until the entrance of sin into the world through the eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil by Adam and Eve. Because they ate of the tree, they “shall surely die.” As their descendants, the curse of their action is also upon us. This curse separates us from God, our Creator. Moreover, this separation causes the ultimate desolation — eternality apart from God in hell. We deserve not only physical death, but an eternal spiritual death.
Jesus has compassion upon us and provides us abundantly with what we need spiritually and physically. Jesus had compassion upon the crowd and provided them with enough food to satisfy their hunger. He miraculously multiplied the seven loaves of bread and a few fish to provide their physical needs. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs his disciples and us to pray that our heavenly Father would “give this day our daily bread.” In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther identifies daily bread as “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs 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 friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” Luther’s words remind us that all good things are provided to us through God’s providence. The providence of God sustains his creation by his involvement and control of the universe. Just as Jesus provided for the material needs of the four thousands, Jesus provides for our physical needs today.
Jesus meets our spiritual needs through spiritual food. In another meal narrative, Jesus takes bread and wine, gives thanks to his Father, and gives the bread and wine to his disciples for the forgiveness of sins. In the Last Supper, Jesus established a means to communicate through earthly elements his own body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Through this Supper, Jesus continues to provide the spiritual food that brings us forgiveness of sins. This forgiveness of sins is only possible through the ultimate sacrifice of Christ upon the cross to restore harmony between humanity and the Trinity. The foundation of the forgiveness of sins found in the Lord’s Supper is found upon the Cross of Calvary. Through this spiritual food, you are forgiven of your trusting of your wealth, career, and knowledge above God’s providence for your earthly needs. Today when you partake of the Lord’s Body and Blood, know that you are united with his death and resurrection. As a communion hymn states, “The gifts are in the feast, gifts far more than we see; beneath the bread and wine Is food from Calvary. The body and the blood remove our ev’ry sin; we leave his presence in His peace renewed again.”
God’s gifts to us for our bodily and spiritual needs both flow from the cross. From the cross, we see Christ with the ultimate expression of compassion for you. Christ takes upon himself our concerns and needs and provides us in exchange the bodily and spiritual gifts, in the Great Exchange. The feeding of the four thousand has its final meaning in our eternal home. When we are called to be with our Lord, we will no longer have any concerns or needs. We will be in the ultimate Feast of the Lamb, where “The saints, who here in patience/ Their cross and suff’rings bore/ Shall live and reign forever/ When sorrow is no more./ Around the throne of glory/ The Lamb shall behold;/ In triumph cast before Him/ Their diadems of gold.” Amen.