August 16, 2020
Pastor John Hering
13 When Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed him on foot from the towns.
14 When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw a large crowd. He had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 When evening came, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 They told him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”
18 “Bring them here to me,” he replied. 19 Then he instructed the people to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish. After looking up to heaven, he blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples. The disciples gave the food to the people. 20 They all ate and were filled. They picked up twelve basketfuls of what was left over from the broken pieces. 21 Those who ate were about five thousand men, not even counting women and children.Matthew 14:13-21
You can name the three big things you need: food, clothes and shelter. Now think about three things you want: maybe protection against Covid-19, better relationships in your family, a job! Let me say this plainly: It isn’t a sin for us to want better things. It is a sin when we desire things that get in the way of our trust in God. For example, we all know how powerful greed is! You’ve heard the comments before: “Why does $50 looks like so little at the grocery store or the gas pump, but it sure looks like a lot in the offering plate!” It is no wonder that the Bible is filled with warnings about our needs and our wants. Jesus said it, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because a man’s life is not measured by how many possessions he has” (Luke 12:15). Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evils. By striving for money, some have wandered away from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Tim 6:10). It is good for our heart and soul to hear what God’s Word says in this regard and Jesus feeding of the 5,000 helps us to review our needs and our wants. May the Holy Spirit lead you to
Depend on Jesus to Meet Your Needs
By His Caring
Today’s Gospel lesson starts like this, “13 When Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place to be alone.” What had just happened? Jesus had just learned of the tragic death of one of his relatives! The verses before say, “ 10 He sent the order and had John beheaded in prison. 11 His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came, took the body, and buried it. Then they went and reported this to Jesus” (9-12). These were difficult times. What were Jesus’ needs and wants? Jesus is true God and if he wanted to he could have avenged John’s death by striking Herod with a heart attack. That would have been a sinful want. Instead, Jesus left because of his needs—to pause, stand back, reflect and have some quiet time to pray! Can’t you just hear Satan cackling, “John’s head on a platter is so gross it will make Jesus run away like a chicken!” How thankful we are that Jesus cared so much that he didn’t run away, but he ran to his caring Father for strength. There Jesus knew his needs would be met.
I doubt ya’ll will receive news of any beheadings of your friends, but we’re living in difficult times! Stress at work? No job? Depression over Covid-19 and what our society will look like tomorrow, let alone next week? Any fear because you wonder about your own future? What do you want? You want to go back to 23 weeks ago when you could look forward to the weekend and enjoy a nice summer vacation? Or what do you need? How about refreshment for our souls? Those mourning the death of loved ones want to gather in God’s house with their family and friends to have their souls refreshed. Maybe there is anger between family members and you long for the comfort of being with your church family. Or maybe you’re so tired from work that you would rather stay home than come to worship, or scared to worship because of the possibility of catching some disease. We want to have our souls presented before the Gospel in Word and sacrament—the very source of our strength and peace—but we can hear the devil cackling as he watches our wants and our needs being soaked in the tears of stress, depression and fear! We need time to refresh our souls through the Gospel and have our wants brought in line with our needs by refocusing on God’s promises. Let’s find a quiet place like Jesus and pray!
What do you suppose Jesus’ prayer sounded like? “Heavenly Father, get me out of here!” No. Understanding Scriptures we might well imagine his prayer went like this, “Dear Father, comfort my family at the tragic death of my cousin John. Father, you know the violence that is all around us. Have mercy and stop the violence, but not my will, but yours be done! That’s why you sent me here. My death at the hands of violent people will open the door to heaven for sinners. Father, give me strength to meet their real needs! Amen!”
Oh, the caring compassion of Jesus for people who were caught up in politics, for his disciples, for the people he was about to encounter. It was time for him to show his compassion and teach the people that this world is not their home and focus their eyes of faith on forgiveness, salvation and eternal life—on Jesus who would meet their needs
It’s hard to keep that focus when there are explosions in Beirut, hurricanes that bring destruction, riots that bring unrest, and loved ones all around the world that are serving to protect us. Yes, we WANT world peace, but what we NEED is the compassion of Jesus Christ who conquered sin, death and the devil for us. Then, grace upon grace, Jesus demonstrated his compassion when he died for us all on the cross.
“13 When Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw a large crowd. He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” What a sight! The boat landed and herds faces came begging for what they WANTED—Jesus’ help! But, Jesus saw more than that. He saw the old man with hearing loss, the old lady with heart problems, lepers and limpers, moms with worries and dads with hang-ups, the naughty boy and the shy girl, and the baby with the birth defect. Jesus saw it all. Just like he sees you and me with our pains and problems and knows our names and “he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Jesus brings our wants in line with our needs by caring enough to pour out his compassion and mercy. And even more!
“15 When evening came, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” The obvious was this—they all wanted something to eat and there was no place to get food. The amazing thing is Jesus tossed the situation right back into the laps of the disciples. They would wrestle with how they wanted things to turn out and force them to realize, “We want things done our way.” But Jesus used this opportunity to bring their wants in line with their needs. What they needed was to learn to trust in Jesus.
Don’t we all look for the quick fixes to life’s problems? Take a pill. Avoid confrontation. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Vote for the right person. Yes, we WANT to be practical. We WANT to do things our way. But, what we need is to do things God’s way. So, Jesus brings our wants in line with our needs by being compassionate and merciful. He uses tough situations to teach us patience and to depend and trust that God will provide for our NEEDS according to his gracious and good will.
“17 They told him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 “Bring them here to me,” he replied. 19 Then he instructed the people to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish. After looking up to heaven, he blessed them. He broke the loaves.” Yes, Jesus could have waved his hand and plopped down fish Tacos into everybody’s lap from heaven. But, Jesus brought their wants in line with their needs by compassionately showing them first things first. First comes the recognition from whom all good and gracious gifts come from—including food! They needed to learn that, “15 The eyes of all look eagerly to you, [O Lord] and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 [You] open your hand, and you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Ps 145). You suppose Jesus looked up to heaven and said out loud, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever” (Ps 107:1).
Remember the days when we would go out to lunch after worship? Where did you go? Cici’s? Babe Chicken? Chilosos? Wouldn’t that be fun to be able to do that again and sit down and shovel that yummy food into your mouth? Or how about that paycheck? Hurry up and deposit that thing into your account to save it or spend on those things you WANT! Wouldn’t it be good for us to remember Jesus who steps in to bring our WANTS in line with our NEEDS? I don’t think I’ve ever said, “O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good” when I am depositing my paycheck into the bank. So, Jesus is compassionate to us and brings our WANTS in line with our NEEDS and helps us to Depend on Jesus to Meet all Our Needs by his Caring and…
By His Sharing
Grab a basket and let’s join the disciples for just a second. We’ve been with Jesus for about two years and seen him to some amazing things. Do you think they’ve learned that Jesus is the source of their wants and needs? Jesus has healed people since getting out of the boat—or have you forgotten that already? The same God who commanded light into existence now does what? “18 “Bring them here to me,” he replied. 19 Then he instructed the people to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish. After looking up to heaven, he blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples. The disciples gave the food to the people.” Easy. Amazing!!!!! No pomp, no “Hey everybody, eyes on me now!” You can hear the voice of the disciples, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish….we WANT more!” but with Jesus they had all they NEEDED! Jesus calmly says, “Bring them here to me.” When you know you can do it, when you have absolutely no doubt you can do it, you can be so calm. Jesus had no doubt “37 For nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37). Then Jesus shared his power to care for the needs of the people. O, Jesus—teach us to also to trust in God’s Almighty Power that he so graciously shares with us!
It’s easy for us to pounce on the disciples for forgetting who they were with and lacking trust in God’s power. But, truth be told, we are just like them. I’m sick and don’t know what to do next. I’m stuck at home and don’t know when I’ll be able to get out again. I don’t know if I’ll have the funds to continue my standard of living. I have so much to do and so little time to get it done. I know what I WANT but what do I NEED? Wait—what we need is for Jesus to bring my WANTS in line with my NEEDS and share his COMPASSION and help me to trust in his POWER! Then sit back and watch what happens.
“The disciples gave the food to the people. 20 They all ate and were filled. They picked up twelve basketfuls of what was left over from the broken pieces. 21 Those who ate were about five thousand men, not even counting women and children.” What happens? Even more than they expected! Twelve basketfuls! Can we miss the point? Jesus used his power to bring our WANTS in line with our NEEDS and gives us not only our needs, but very often our wants! He gives us more than we can even imagine or hope for. Indeed, our problem now might be that he gave too much! He shared with us so richly that we can’t hardly find room for it all! Closets full. Houses full. Left-over food thrown away. Jesus has powerfully provided more than we could even hope for or imagine!
But, there’s more! We can name three things we need and three things we want, and God gives us even more! Underserving, wasteful, spoiled little you and I have received the greatest gift of all. Depend on Jesus who have provided your greatest need of all! Jesus has died to pay for all your sins, reestablish your relationship with God, given you a clean conscience, and filled your heart with the hope of heaven. Jesus has stepped in to take our WANTS and our NEEDS and put them in line. Our Savior cared for us and shared his best with us. Let greed melt into satisfaction. Anxiety give way to peace. Dreary days of Covid-19 turn into days of depending on Jesus who takes care of all our needs. Amen!