The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“Our Daily Bread”
August 6, 2017
Sermon Text: Matthew 14:13-21
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
There are so many joys, blessings and benefits of reading and rereading God’s Word including our Gospel lesson in which we have before us what is commonly known as “The Feeding of the Five Thousand.”
Raise your hand if you have heard this before. Hmm. Quite a few of you and those who didn’t raise your hand, it was probably because your German and “vee don’t raise our hands in church!”
Many can practically recite this account by heart because they have heard it again and again from childhood on up… be it in sermons, Sunday school lessons, in Vacation Bible School or home devotions.
So what exactly are the joys, the blessings and the benefits of reconsidering it now… today of all days… or in the future? Haven’t we heard it enough? Know it well enough? Been reminded enough? No… no… and no.
First of all, there is a major misnomer about God’s Word that, after a certain while, a certain number of times, you reach a point where it is not all that important to hear, consider and ponder it any further.
When it comes to God’s Word, such people believe in the “law of diminishing returns” and hence they feel they can go quite a while (in some cases a whole summer) without being exposed to Scripture.
Why? Because they have heard it before. Their feeling is that they won’t miss much… didn’t miss much. They’ve been there, done that, heard that.
So, it is all good. No… it is not… not at all. Not in light of the fact that each and every time we take into our ears the Holy Word of God… each time we take into our mouths Christ’s real Body and Blood He imparts to us right then and there… that very moment and instant… His love, His mercy, His forgiveness… not to mention divine wisdom and guidance… divine comfort and strength to carry on… move on… in our brief sojourn here on earth.
Who can get enough of such things? Would want to go any length of time without this, all this, the grace of God being poured upon us through these holy and sacred means?
The miracle of feeding five thousand men, not to mention all of the women and children who were present is great indeed. It certainly attests to Jesus being the Christ… the anointed One… the Messiah… whom the Lord God through the prophets of old said would be mighty in word and deed. That is how the savior of the world would be known from all the false christs who would come, have come. None of them could do what Jesus did… all of the miracles He performed. None could speak and say what Jesus said, for He spoke with power and authority. (Luke 4:36)
That is why our Lord answered as He did when the followers of John the Baptist came to Him and asked if He was the one… if He was truly the Messiah. He said “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5)
Speaking of John, the feeding of the five thousand occurs shortly after he is beheaded. The grizzly details are recording in the first part of Matthew 14 and then in the second part, we pick up our text with Jesus hearing of this and as it says, He withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by Himself.” (Matthew 14:13)
My friends, you said that you have heard this account of the “Feeding of the Five Thousand” many times, but in how many of those instances did you ever consider the significance of the “desolate place” where Jesus goes? Because He actually did this a number of times in His mission and ministry here on earth… withdrawing to be alone… but not alone. He goes to pray to His Father and our Father. He goes, and maybe as was the case at the start of His ministry and again at the end, to be attended to by angels. (Matthew 4:11, Luke 22:43)
He goes to this desolate place mentioned in our text to be alone. But He is not alone. Look who follows Him, finds Him? Some five thousand men, plus women and children.
Picture, for a moment in your mind all of these people there… in this desolate place. And Jesus is with them there, right there, in this desolate place. He has compassion on them in this desolate place. He ministers to them in this desolate place. He heals the sick in this desolate place. It gets late and His disciples tell Him, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” (Matthew 14:15)
It is late. It is getting dark. They are out there in no-man’s land. And you know what happens then… what miracle takes place in this desolate place. All the people are fed, full, satisfied and this with only five loaves of bread and two fish with even some left over.
Amazing. But it would be incredibly short sighted of us if we think that all of this is a onetime event, because it is not. The truth is, this could not be more of an ongoing event… something that is going on still today, thankfully today, with us and with far more than thousands of others.
Dearly beloved of the Lord, what we have here… portrayed here… whether we know it or not… realize it or not… is our life… yours and mine… in Christ now… our life in Christ here on earth… in this “late hour” of time remaining… in this place, this world that grows increasingly dark, this spiritually desolate place where we are nevertheless not alone… never alone. Ever!
Jesus is with us. He ministers to us, has compassion on us. He heals us of the most terminal of all diseases, namely sin. And He feeds us. He gives us divine bread which wonderfully, powerfully nourishes and fortifies us so that we can go on… so that we do not grow weary and faint or die of spiritual starvation.
Indeed, as we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread”… that is to say, all that we need to sustain our bodies… so we pray for that bread… that manna from heaven which sustains our very souls. It is the bread of God’s Word. It is the bread along with the wine… Christ’s very Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
All of this, a far greater miracle and meal because this divine food – God’s Holy Word and the Sacraments – do not sustain us for a day, but for all eternity… for the time left as we walk through this desolate world and then in heaven where we will abide with the One who is the very Bread of Life, forever and ever.
Magnificent and marvelous, isn’t it? The account of what took place thousands of years ago is actually us today… our situation now and forever… you and me… with our daily bread… divine bread. His name is Jesus. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Our Daily Bread” 8/6/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL