Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Trinity 7 (July 6, 2008, revised from 2005)
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, CLICK HERE
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is the Gospel lesson just read, the feeding of the 4000.
Compassion is such a great word. Don’t you think? Compassion means that your guts are moved to help another person. It means that you can’t help yourself but to help the other person. Compassion means you are so focused on the needs of the other person that you don’t even care about your own needs. You are willing to give up whatever you need to give up in order to take care of them. It means you care more about them than you care about yourself. It is a great word. It’s a Gospel word. It is a word for you today.
Jesus had been out in the wilderness with the multitude for three days. They had been hearing Jesus preach and teach about the kingdom of God. Jesus said that he had compassion on them, because they had been with Him for three days and had nothing to eat. He was going to take care of them, even if the disciples couldn’t understand how Jesus could do it. They even ask the question, How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?
The disciples are betraying their own sinfulness here, just as you and I do. They looked at all of these people and their hunger, and they couldn’t get past it. In a word, they worried. They worried that God wasn’t God. They worried that Jesus couldn’t take care of these people and their needs. They were in the desert and in the wilderness, and they forgot that when God is present with His people, all things will be taken care of in their own time and just as God sees fit. Worrying means forgetting that God is God and believing that you must control everything in your life. That is what they forgot.
Now I don’t know about you, but you’d think that I love to worry, with the amount of time that I waste on it. The more you look at the problems and trials in your life, the lives of your family members, and certainly in turning on the television, you can shorten your life by worrying. If London, why not Kenosha? If not cancer, what next? Heart attacks, job security, even the simple act of putting bread on the table may easily become a cause for worry. The more you look at these things apart of the God who created the world, the more likely you are to forget who you are, just like Adam and Eve.
In our Old Testament reading for this morning, we hear how God breathed into Adam, and Adam became a living being. He had a soul. God had breathed life into Adam. Adam was God’s creation. Adam and Eve were really the pinnacle of God’s creation, not just one of many, stamped out on an assembly line. No, everything God had created in heaven and on earth was for them. Think of that for a moment. God’s love and care for Adam and Eve was such that He literally made the world for them and He made them for each other. That is the level of God’s care for them. He placed them in the Garden, and provided for everything they would ever need.
If that is God’s care and love for Adam and Eve, does He love you any less? Of course not. God loves you as much as He loved them, and so God’s providential care extends to the whole world, and that most certainly includes you.
So when Jesus looks upon this multitude, what He really wants to do for them is breathe into them once again, just like what happened at creation. In fact, that is God’s continual work. Perhaps you remember the words from the catechism. I believe that God has made me and all creatures, that he has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them…
We often forget that little line. God still takes care of you. He takes care of you just like He took care of Adam and Eve in the Garden. He provides for all our needs of body and soul. He feeds and clothes us. He gives us jobs and homes and families. He gives us friends and neighbors. He gives us all things. But like those people in the desert so many years ago, it is easy at times to look at the drought, and to forget that God has everything under control.
In the Garden with Adam and Eve, everything was fresh and new and beautiful and obvious, but they in their sin forgot God and went their own sinful way, the way that led to death. But on that day when Jesus fed the 4000, everything was reversed. They were in the desert, in the wilderness, a land where it looked like God had abandoned them. But it was not so. For Jesus was there, in their midst. And when Jesus is in the midst of them, all things are right.
Now it shouldn’t surprise you too much, but this isn’t finally a story about bread and fish. It’s a story about faith in Jesus Christ. What Jesus came to give the disciples and the multitudes was Himself, the very Kingdom of God come into their midst. And when Jesus gave them of Himself by Word and deed, they received everything else. The needs of their body fell right into place, because Jesus was there, taking care of them, both body and soul. Listen again to the words of our collect for this morning:
O God, whose never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth, we humbly implore You to put away from us all hurtful things and give to us those things that be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Jesus comes to you today just as He did to those people in our account from Jesus’ life. Jesus comes to you today with words of hope and comfort, and He comes to you with the very Bread of Life. Jesus comes to you today to give you His very body and blood, hidden under bread and wine. When Jesus gives you today is not simply food to feed your body. No, Jesus gives you something far, far greater. Jesus orders everything in this life, so that you will be cared for, body and soul together. It all really comes to a focal point in the Lord’s Supper, because here we see how when Jesus feeds your body, He also feeds your soul, comforts your conscience, and orders all things for your good.
We began this sermon with the word compassion, and that is where it ends. God has compassion on you, for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ. He will take care of you. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.