Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (A—Proper 13)

August 3, 2014
Text: Is. 55:1-5; Matt. 14:13-21

            “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Is. 55:1; ESV).  Our Lord bids us through the Prophet Isaiah to come to Him and be satisfied, to purchase from Him water, food, wine, and milk, a feast which we, who have nothing of ourselves, could never afford.  But our Lord bids us come and buy that which is priceless without money and without price.  Because He gives it freely.  And what is this water, food, wine, and milk?  It is His salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, mercy, providence, faith, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  It is all that Christ pours out on us in His Word and Sacraments.  What else is the water but Baptism?  What else is the food but the Bread of Life that is our Lord’s Body given into death for us and distributed to us?  What else is the wine but the Lord’s Blood in the Supper?  What else is the milk but the precious Word of God by which He nourishes us as infants in the faith?  And it’s free to you and to me here in the Lord’s Church.
            The Lord Jesus feeds His people.  Certainly He gives us each day our daily bread.  At the very least we ought to take that lesson to heart as we hear the Holy Gospel.  The people are hungry.  The Lord provides.  Bread in the wilderness.  Five loaves and two fish, miraculous multiplication, twelve baskets left over.  He’ll provide for you, too.  But that’s not really the point.  You have yet to starve to death because your heavenly Father knows what you need and has graciously given it.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).  We’re always laboring for that which does not satisfy, as the Prophet Isaiah points out to us (Is. 55:2).  We’re always so narrowly focused on this life and the concerns of this life, that we look for satisfaction in possessions and money or pleasure, what this world has to offer.  And though we know better as Christians, for all practical purposes, we often act as if this life is all there is.  Live it up now.  Get what you can now.  It’s all over when you die.  You know that’s not true!  In reality, it is only Jesus who satisfies.  He is the Bread of Life from heaven, the true Manna who sustains us in this wilderness of sin and death, with His Word and His Body and His Blood.  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  The Word imparts Jesus, gives Him to us with all His saving benefits, to nourish us and bring us to eternal life, heaven, and the resurrection of our bodies.
            Don’t miss the point of the feeding of the 5,000.  Yes, Jesus miraculously multiplied real bread and fish.  Yes, hungry people ate real food and were satisfied because their bellies were full.  St. John tells us in his account that bread is all the people cared about (John 6:26).  They wanted to make Jesus King so that they would always have something to eat (v. 15).  Jesus chides them for it.  “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (v. 27).  The people had missed the point of the miracle.  Jesus’ providence for the bodily needs of the people is a sign of His providence for our spiritual needs. 
            After all, Jesus could have provided for the people’s hunger in another way.  Clearly there were villages nearby to which the people could go and buy bread for themselves, as they undoubtedly planned to do anyway, and this was the suggestion of the disciples (Matt. 14:15).  But what does Jesus say to His disciples?  “(Y)ou give them something to eat” (v. 16).  Jesus isn’t giving this command to just anybody.  He’s giving it to the Twelve.  He’s giving it to the Apostles, the first Christian pastors, and He’s charging to them to feed the people.  Not with their own resources, mind you.  They are to take what God has already given them, five loaves of bread and two fish, and bring it to Jesus, for it is He, through them, who will feed the people.  And what does He do?  He takes the food, gives thanks, breaks it, and gives it to His disciples.  Now, that ought to sound familiar.  Let me repeat that.  He takes the bread and fish, gives thanks, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples.  And the disciples are to give it to the people. 
            This is how the Lord feeds His Church.  He feeds His Church by distributing His gifts in the Apostolic Ministry.  He gives the Church pastors who are to take what God has already given to satisfy our bodily needs, bread and wine in the case of the Lord’s Supper, and bring them to Jesus, for it is He who feeds His Church by the mouths and hands of His ministers.  Jesus, by the mouth of His called and ordained servant, speaks His Word over the bread and wine, the Words of Institution: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples…” (LSB 197).  You know how it goes.  He says of the bread, “this is My + body,” and it is.  And He says of the wine, “this is My + blood,” and it is.  And then the pastor is to take what Jesus has given and feed the people.  It is free.  It is for you.  You who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  For that which is priceless is here given to you without price, for Jesus has paid the price in full in His innocent suffering and death on the cross for you.
            No, the meal in the wilderness was not the Lord’s Supper.  That would not happen until the night of our Lord’s betrayal in the Upper Room where He had gathered with His disciples.  They were to take what happened there and give it to the Church.  This meal in the wilderness is a dry run of sorts, a practice, to teach the Church how the Lord feeds us.  He gives pastors.  And He gives the pastors that which they are to feed the people.  And in this way Jesus Himself feeds you.  And there is another lesson here.  Everyone is satisfied.  And there are even leftovers.  What seems like it could never be enough: five loaves and two fish, is sufficient to fill everyone and so also fill twelve baskets full of leftovers.  There is a basket for each disciple to take up, for when the Lord gives, He gives in abundance. 
            And we look at the little wafer and the sip of wine in the Supper and say, How can that possibly satisfy?  How can that do anything about my need, physically or spiritually?  What can that possibly do about my sin?  What can that possibly do about my death?  Beloved, do not look at the appearance of things.  When you do that, you labor for that which does not satisfy.  Remember what the Lord did with the five loaves and two fish.  Look what the Lord does with the bread and wine of the Supper.  He takes it.  He blesses it.  He gives to you, His true body and blood, given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.  And you are satisfied.  You are healed of your iniquity.  You are healed of death.  You are nourished for eternal life.  For when the crucified and risen Body and Blood of Jesus touches your lips and flows down your throat, the Bread of Life and the Medicine of Immortality has taken possession of you.  It flows in you and through you.  And it overflows to your neighbor, because remember, there are always leftovers, baskets to pick up, the Bread of Life (Jesus) to distribute, the grace and mercy of God poured into you in Jesus so that there is more than enough for you to give to your neighbor.

            Jesus feeds His Church.  Jesus feeds you.  He feeds you with Himself.  And it is enough.  You are satisfied.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

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