What A Feast!
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
3 August 2014 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
What good are you Jesus? John the Baptist has been rotting in prison and now he has been viciously murdered. Made shorter by a head. And what do you do? You take off to be by yourself as if you’re some kind of Rock Star Planet Hollywood loner. Word’s leaked out. TMZ Palestine is watching your every move and has tweeted and twittered your whereabouts.
So now we’re stuck out here in the middle of nowhere. We’re surrounded, overrun and suffocated by a mob of over 5,000 Starvin Marvin men not counting all the famished women and the crying, snotty-nosed children! We wanted to get rid of them since it’s late and they do need to eat. No Jimmy Johns in sight. No Little Caesars for miles. And you have the audacity tell us to give them something to eat? Really? Like we could do that! All we have are five little loaves of rock hard barley bread and two stale dried fish! What is that among so many?
What kind of Jesus is this? Can you trust this Jesus? A Jesus with only five loaves and two fish? In the desert too boot? And among such a huge crowd? Can you? Will you? You’re having your doubts, aren’t you?
Have you forgotten just how compassionate He is? His heart went out to these troubled folks. He “healed their sick.” Jesus sees a mission field – a world full of sinners for whom He came to do a Good Friday in order to redeem them and fellowship with them.
But what do you see? What troubles you? You see only a bothersome horde of wretched, sick people. You can’t take your eyes off the five stale loaves and two stinky fish. Barely a petite lunch for a little preschool boy. You shake your head. You only see the massive throng of men, women and children hounding Him. Perpetually coming to Him. What is this Jesus among so many?
Your vision is restricted, small, and limited. Your focus is on your lack of resources, restrictions (it’s late in the day – way out in the boondocks), and the gargantuanly impossible task that Jesus asked you to do: feed 5,000 plus. You’re preoccupied with a bunch of loser moochers. A gang of worthless hangers on. Deadbeats who are totally dependent on this Jesus and won’t let go of Him. You’re upset.
What aren’t you seeing? Better yet, who aren’t you seeing or believing among the 5,000 plus, the musty bread rolls and rank fish? You believe that all you have are seven items: five bread rolls and two little fishies. You should really count to eight. Aren’t you forgetting? Jesus? You’ve got Him! But in all your fretting and anxiety you’ve counted Him out! Such overwhelming need with such underwhelming resources! Jesus seems so little. So worthless. So irrelevant. So beside the point. Will you trust such a puny and weak Jesus? Can you?
You’re just like Israel of old. As Israel wandered in the wilderness — on her way to the Promised Land — “they spoke against God saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert? Can he also give bread … for his people?” (Psalm 78:17-20) You too are just like, of all people, Moses himself. He looked around and all he could see were 600,000 Israelite male mouths to feed (not counting all thee Israelite women and children). Moses doubted big time. He complained. He grumbled. His problem was with the Lord. “‘Here I am among 600,000 men on foot and you [God] say, I will give them meat to eat for a whole month! Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?’” (Numbers 11:21-22)
That’s when the Lord unloaded the following verbal answer: “‘IS THE LORD’S ARM TOO SHORT? YOU WILL NOW SEE WHETHER OR NOT WHAT I SAY WILL COME TRUE FOR YOU.’” (Numbers 11:23). And then the Lord gave the Israelites quail to eat. More food than they and Moses ever could imagine or eat! And there was more of course. God gave Israel manna from heaven too! You remember that, don’t you?
The same compassion that brought Jesus to the shore to “heal their sick,” now leads Him to care for this swarm of hangers on even more. Doing something you never expected! Something you didn’t even dare to ask for! Wasn’t on your radar screen. Because you’ve been having your doubts about this …. Uh … Jesus.
Well, that’s when Jesus steps up to the plate, the dinner plate if you will. He barks out the orders. “Give me the bread and fish. Sit down everyone. Yes, on the grass, please.” He raises His eyes to heaven. Speaks a table blessing. Breaks the bread into pieces, hands the pieces to the disciples and the disciples pass out the pieces to the multitude.
And what’s barely enough for a little boy’s lunch now becomes a feast for 5,000 plus! In the wilderness of all places! With only 5 loaves and 2 fish. Incredibly everyone eats until they’re full! They’re stuffed. Can’t eat another bite! Amazingly, there are 12 baskets bursting full of leftovers!
Never expected that, did you? Not even in your wildest dreams!
But with Jesus there’s always enough and more than enough to go around. The disciples needed to learn that. And so do you. Why do you doubt? Are you of “little faith?” Like Old Testament Israel in the wilderness Jesus teaches His disciples and you to TRUST in His care and attention. Just as God fed Israel bread from heaven and quail as well in the desert to disciple and train them to look to Him for every need of body and soul, SO JESUS IS DOING THE SAME WITH HIS DISCIPLES AND YOU TODAY.
Jesus is God – FOR YOU. No matter what the circumstances – no matter what the situation – no matter how little you have – no matter how bleak your condition looks – He’s there for you. And to provide for you.
That’s precisely why He taught you to pray this way: “Give us this day our daily bread.” And He does. The farmer grows the grain. The miller grinds it. The baker kneads it into dough and bakes it. The truck driver transports it. The grocer distributes it. That’s how Jesus gives you daily bread. And with other material things you need for this earthly life.
Now I can’t help myself. I have to say more. I hope you can listen for just a few more minutes. Here goes.
Loads of little indicators, tiny details in the text that push us to believe and rejoice in Jesus as your Savior all the more. Check it out.
1. Jesus directs the people to sit on the grass. St. Mark says it’s “green” grass (Mk 6:39). John tells us that there was “much grass,” (Jn 6:10)! Of what does that remind you? A psalm? Yes, that’s right: none other than Psalm 23! And the psalm’s preaching of THE GOOD SHEPHERD who leads His sheep to LIE DOWN in GREEN pastures! Why? Well, according to Psalm 23, in order to “prepare a table [loaded with nourishing food] before” His people.
2. Since the grass is green that means it’s spring. That means that Passover is near – Israel’s celebration from Egyptian slavery to Promised Land freedom. So, Jesus, one greater than Moses, feeds His new Israel in the wilderness as He goes the way to His exodus, that is, His Good Friday death and Easter Morn resurrection.
No doubt the disciples, the crowd and now you recall the miraculous manna from heaven. Bread that rained down from heaven every morning to feed the Israelites in their wilderness wandering. In addition, they probably remembered the time that the prophet Elijah miraculously fed 100 men with 20 barley loaves. But Jesus is greater than Moses. Greater than Elijah.
Isaiah proclaimed God’s salvific promise to Israel of old: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price….Incline your ear and come to Me. Hear, and your soul will live.” When Jesus miraculously feeds this huge crowd, you know that the salvation promised by God through the prophet Isaiah is happening – in Jesus!
And there’s more. The feeding of the 5,000 plus is a foretaste of the greater feast to come that Jesus would soon provide. Again, a feast that no one, not even you expected. You know. It happened on the night He was betrayed. He took bread. Gave thanks. Broke it. Handed it to the disciples with the most audacious words ever spoken at a feast in the Bible: “Eat it. This is my body. It’s for you.” Then He took the cup of wine. Gave it to them to drink and declared: “This is my blood. Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”
Wow! He multiplied bread in the wilderness. Fed 5,000 plus. 12 baskets of fragments left over. Today He multiplies the bread of His Body and the wine of His Blood. Again, for you. For your forgiveness. It is the feast that rejoices in Jesus’ Good Friday victory to win your salvation!
And yet even more. The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of the final feast to come. The eternal wedding supper blowout of the Lamb! Heaven! (Revelation 19:8).
All this is yours! Because of Jesus. That’s the Jesus is FOR YOU!
Thanks be to Jesus!
In the Name of Jesus.