Lord, let Your blessing be upon us. Amen.
Text: Mark 8:1-9
In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. And they had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away.
These people gathered around the Lord and heard Him. — His Christians are always with Him. As many as believe are always with Him and He with them. He is with us, not just in the way that God is present everywhere with His almighty power, preserving and supporting all things. But He is with us in His holy Word as our Savior and the King of our heart, as the God of love and grace, who gives us of His Spirit and feeds us from His own life.
The people in this lesson despised the Lord’s miraculous gifts. We too live by His blessing. Both spiritually and physically we are preserved by His hand, and in many wonderful ways He prepares our food in nature’s kitchen, just as He miraculously transforms it within us into muscles and blood and flesh and bones. The evil and the good are fed by Him, but believers receive it with a completely different attitude than the unbelievers. Believers “sanctify everything with the Word of God and prayer” (1Ti 4:5) and in these earthly things they enjoy love that is heavenly and imperishable. So God’s children continually live from the Lord’s miracles, even though they receive their nourishment in natural bread. Every day we sit among the 4,000, having nothing ourselves, but are fed by the Lord, receiving from His hand what He has blessed, and sharing it with one another and getting enough, yes, seven baskets more than enough.
Did these people have reason to fear any need? Neither should we worry about food and drink and clothing. 1) Who cared for those people first, they themselves or the Lord? “I have compassion on the multitude,” He says, and He considers how long they have been there, and what it must be like for them. From the heart He is good and generous and knows what we need. 2) Isn’t He able to create for us what is needed? What we read here is written so that we should believe in Him and overcome all worry. In the same regard the Spirit of God has also set before us what happened with Elijah and the widow in Zarephath, and what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount about flowers and birds. O how happy you would be, if you let the Lord care for you! But as weak as you are in faith, He will still always give you what you need and more.
How shall we then use God’s gifts? 1) We should use them with joy and thanksgiving. Receive them as gifts of love from your God, and enjoy their sweetness before His face. He wishes it for you. Be glad in the good He gives you, because it is He from whom You receive it. So let it lead your heart to Him, so that you can thank Him even for loss and chastisement, if He should take it from you again. 2) We should gladly go to others and share with them, break bread with the hungry, and not be afraid that it shall be used up. As the disciples did in our Gospel, you also should do every day!
Lord Jesus, let us always live with You, continually live from Your miracles, not fearing any want, but believing in You. Let us receive Your gifts with joy and thanksgiving, and share them with generous hand to all the needy. Amen.
The King of Love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me
And on His shoulder gently laid
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill,
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spreadst a table in my sight,
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth.
And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever!
[We substitute:]Baker: The King of love ELH 370;
tune: St. Columba
[Originally:]Marot: Psalm 23 Den, som mig føder, det er Gud min Herre L 489