SERMON FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 7-15-2018
LUTHER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, SHOREWOOD, WI
Rev. Michael Larson
This morning the crowds are gathering around Jesus. They can’t get enough of him. They are listening to him, hearing every word proceeding from his mouth. They are not impatient. They are not bored. They are listening to Jesus for three days straight. And they are not concerned about the service time. They’re not looking at their watches. In fact, they lose track of time altogether.
The crowds are gathered together hearing about the Kingdom of God. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Old folks and young folks all together. They are all with Jesus and they love it. They might as well be in paradise because Christ is present. God is with them. They lose track of time and even seem to forget about the basic necessities such as food as they listen to Jesus. Perhaps they recalled the words of the Lord “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
And Jesus calls his disciples and says 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.”
The disciples who had already seen this miracle once before, still doubted that Jesus could feed this large crowd. The disciples said to Jesus “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” But Jesus didn’t scold them. He is patient and does it all over again. He took seven loaves, gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples to give to the crowd. The bread multiplied and fed thousands. They ate and they were satisfied.
The disciples gathered up the leftover fragments of bread and filled seven baskets full.
The thousands who heard Jesus preaching and teaching now feasted on bread from heaven which satisfied their souls – and nourished their bodies.
Jesus says, “Do not labor for food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life” (Jn. 6:27). Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…I am the living bread. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal lie, and I will raise him up on the last day. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (Jn. 6).
You see we all have a problem with hunger. The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow. Most children come home after school, begging to mom, saying “I’m starving.” Since the fall into sin the whole food supply has been cursed. Men eat their bread by the sweat of their brow. We all toil and labor in our work till we return to the ground. Children are not totally off base for telling their parents their starving. We’re constantly hungry. We get weak and wobbly if we don’t get enough food.
But most of all, we are most wobbly and week-kneed from spiritual depletion and spiritual malnourishment. Let’s be honest here. We Christians, we find ourselves running on E through the whole week. We’re tired, we’re running on fumes. We are exhausted with the pressures of work, family life, and all the pressures of this modern age.
Yet more than anything we are tried and run down through our own fault. Behind our anxiety, behind our worries, and exhaustion. When it comes to family problems. Even finances – our hunger, our wanting for more, is mostly caused by our own sin.
Deep down we have a fundamental mistrust in God. We don’t find him to be totally reliable to care for us and provide for all of our needs. This is precisely what caused Adam and Eve to reach out their hands – to doubt God’s love – and to desire what God had prohibited. They reached out their hands and were led by the devil rather than the God of love. And ever since we have been scattered east of Eden to a world dying from war, hunger, and thirst.
Like the crowds in today’s Gospel text you too are living in a wilderness of sin. Satan harasses you – accuses you – sears your conscience and gives you no rest.
Yet this morning we see something incredible going on. Jesus is providing an oasis in the desert. He is feeding the hungry crowds. People who long for peace with God and the forgiveness of sins. He is restoring paradise.
Our text says that Jesus was with the crowds for 3 days thus pointing to the resurrection. Sunday is the Lord’s Day when we feast on the bread of life. In paradise man was damned through a meal and now man is saved through this heavenly meal. The very body and blood of the Risen Christ.
Today in the Divine Service we see the same thing – in fact something greater! Hungry crowds come here to church to gather around the Risen Christ. Through Christ’s resurrection victory he gives rest for the weary and spiritual food and drink for the malnourished. He provides refreshment through the splash of baptismal waters that cools our burning consciences through His word of absolution. We have an oasis of delight in the Lord’s presence. And yet this is no mirage – it’s real! Christ’s real presence – in true body and true blood given and shed for you.
When the crowds are all fed and nourished – filled and satisfied – they go home. Whether rich or poor, or having nothing at all, they now have everything. In Jesus, they have no lack.
Dearly beloved in Christ, if God can be trusted with your greatest need how can you doubt his deep and compassionate concern for you in all your earthly needs? If he can rescue you in soul and body from hell how can you doubt his loving concern for every little need you have – whether great or small! Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” He who gave His only Son, how will he not also, through Him, graciously give you all things? Dear Christians, Jesus will not let you go uncared for. God is not holding out on you.
He gives you Himself. He gives you His Son. Gives you everything. He gives you a kingdom and lays before you a lavish feast of forgiveness, life and salvation. Jesus says, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.” He says “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus promises to have compassion on you. He will feed you, sustain you, and bless you. He will not let His righteous ones faint or fall along the way home. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Prayer of the Church
Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.
Remember, Lord, Your promise to be a rock of refuge for Your baptized children. Be gracious to us. Create in us humble and contrite hearts, that we might always cry out to You for mercy. Fill us with Your love. Grant us renewal by Your Holy Spirit, that we may always abide in Jesus Christ, our Savior, beholding His glory in His Holy Word and Sacraments and being made well by the same. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Remember, Lord, Your promise to send workers into Your vineyard. Remember also all those whom You have already sent. Make Your face shine on them, that through their faithful service, the eyes of those blind to Your mercies may be opened and see the salvation they have in Jesus Christ. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Remember, Lord, our nation and its leaders. Guide them in the direction You would have them go, that peace and prosperity, truth and justice, religion and piety may dwell in our land. Remember also those who serve in our armed forces, that they would serve with integrity and honor. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Remember, Lord, the elderly and homebounds. Provide them with compassionate and loving caregivers, and bless the nursing homes throughout our land, and bless children who care for their parents in the home. Heal your servant Lou Gabriel, recovering from a fall, and grant him your grace to take comfort in your promises. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Remember, Lord, Christopher and Stephanie Coleman, united in the bonds of holy matrimony yesterday. Sustain them in their marriage and richly bless them, that they would find strength in your Word of forgiveness and live lives of sacrificial love toward each other. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Remember, Lord, those who come to the holy altar this day to receive the medicine of immortality in the Holy Eucharist. Fill all who partake of Your Son’s very body and blood with His life and love, that they may depart in His peace, which surpasses all understanding. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Remember, Lord, Your promise to fill the wedding banquet of Your Son and His Bride, the Church, with guests clad in white robes. For those who have gone before us and now rest from their labors, we give You thanks and praise. Bring us, with them, to the day of our Lord’s glorious return, that we may all receive the eternal inheritance You have prepared for us. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.