Trinity VII (Mark 8:1-9) @ Shepherd of the City & Logos Lutheran Fellowship
July 19, 2015
Scripture: Mark 8:1–8:9
He calls his disciples to Him and reminds them of the plan. You’d think those disciples would get it by now wouldn’t ya? After all they’ve seen Jesus heal and feed already. But here Jesus is again, reminding them, not only of what He’s going to do, but also continuing to reveal to them in their faithlessness and unbelief just exactly Who He is.
He is the One Who has compassion “I have compassion” Jesus says. And there’s really three important things for the disciples and us to glean from our text for this 7th Sunday after Trinity. The first thing to know is; Who is going to have compassion? The second thing for us to note is what compassion really means. and the third thing to understand are the implications for us; words what does it mean for us?
To the first point our text tells us that Jesus is the One who has compassion, not the disciples or anyone else, just Jesus. This is important to note first of all because Jesus has been in this spot before, He’s been compassionate in the wilderness at other times. Yes, there’s the feeding of the 5,000 but, don’t forget the 40 years that Jesus provided food to the wandering Israelites. I know it sounds strange to say that Jesus was the One feeding them but it’s important to note that when God speaks manna, or light; anytime God the Father speaks He speaks Jesus. There is no creation without Jesus, there is no bread from heaven without Jesus there is nothing that is without the Word of God, in short there is nothing that is without Jesus. And in all the instances of miraculous feeding Jesus provided that which was most necessary.
Suffice it to say then that Jesus; the very Word of God has the situation under control despite the setting and despite the circumstances. But knowing this history, as the disciples as good Jews do, isn’t enough, for in their faithlessness and unbelief the disciples ask a foolish question. “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” There is distrust that looms large in that desolate place and according to the world it makes sense. After all, how can you find bread in this desolate place? And if you did find it, as they do, how is it possible to feed the masses that have gathered? It makes no difference to the disciples what Jesus has said about compassion, for the circumstances say that it just can’t happen.
Which brings us to the second thing to note; Jesus has come to have compassion. In our day the very best we can understand about compassion is to say that it’s a sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. That definition is good as far as it goes but it doesn’t help us to understand what’s going on in our text. For the compassion that Jesus speaks of is a sympathetic concern of sorts but goes even deeper and it must. For it would be easy to sympathize with the hungry masses and simply do nothing about it; but for the God of all mercy, the creator God Himself just having an aching sympathy for the people just won’t do. Jesus is torn up inside, for He sees the hunger of those whom He has created, He sees the need inside of them who had gathered for a three day sermon fest.
They had run out of food and they were hungry. What we must understand is that Jesus compassion is a deeper sense and a deeper understanding that actually causes Him to pour His guts out. He pours out all of himself to the ones who hungered physically. He Who said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God, knows that these poor people need to eat and to this end provides for them that which they don’t ask for but that which they desperately need for their bodies.
But Jesus also notes what was going with His disciples. They had labored in the wilderness for days as well but it was clear to Jesus that it wasn’t just their physical needs that needed to be met it was their spiritual needs. “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” How could they who have been at the feet of Jesus for so long, who have seen the Lord’s miracles, most recently the healing of the deaf man in Mark 7 and the feeding of the 5000 in Mark 6? How is it that they could have forgotten what they themselves had already seen? Their faith in their master was founded upon their sight and was swayed and dissipated by the circumstances that surrounded them. Although they had seen, they were blind. Although they had heard Jesus preach day after day they were deaf. And it is their spiritual blindness and deafness that the Godman Jesus wishes to heal.
Yes, the disciples concede that there is One who can do these things; they get that much; they’ve even heard that it will be Jesus who will have compassion but how exactly does He plan to go about accomplishing this here in this desolate place? They believe… but their belief is only a half belief. They wanted more than anything to believe, but the truth is that they believe that the circumstances that surround them is too much this time.
And so it is for you and me. Dearly beloved you are the crowd in the text. You who have gathered this day, not for a three day sermon, although that might happen someday; have many needs of body in this life. You need food, shelter and clothing and your Lord has not forgotten these things. God gives daily bread, even without your prayer, even to all wicked men; but we pray in the Lord’s prayer that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. He cares for your bodies so much that He provides these things to you without your even asking. But it is not His provisions of food, clothing, shelter and the like that makes you special, for even wicked people receive this. What makes you different, indeed what sets you special is that you are also like the disciples in this text.
Your faith in the Lord of Heaven and Earth has been given to you and nourished by the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, the disciples sat at the feet of the great teacher for years, and so it is for most of you. You have, since your baptism day, been preserved, taken care of, fed with the sound teaching of the truth and you have been nourished with the very presence of your Lord in the Lord’s Supper. Yet the isolation, the desolation, the stark darkness of the wildernesses of your lives and this sinful world overcome you and you are left speaking with the disciples here in our text and the father in Mark 9; I want to believe, more than anything, by my baptism I want to believe but have you seen what’s going on around me!? Do you Jesus have the slightest clue what I’ve been going through? Can’t you see the obstacles that stand in the way? HELP MY UNBELEIF! And His answer to you, His answer to His disciples is one of pure grace.
He has compassion upon those who do not ask; both the people in their physical hunger and the disciples in their spiritual hunger. Christ your Lord, true God and man provides unmerited favor for you in your fear, faithlessness, fright, and pandemonium. He feeds you in your physical and spiritual hunger.
Your God and King, full of compassion, pours himself out to you. Not just in providing for your physical needs of body this side of heaven but your daily spiritual needs as you await your Lord’s coming again. He has compassion. And it is today in our text that the fullness of this comes into view. For the truest compassion that anyone could have; the greatest sympathy and work that could be done for both body and soul is for One to fully embody the sin, the desperation, the isolation indeed the very sin that would separate us from God forever and put all these things to death with Him on the Cross. Dearly beloved as the writer of the book of Hebrews reminds you; we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15-16) That is true compassion, a true pouring out of His guts for you. Christ your Lord knows your every need both of body and soul for He took upon himself your sinful, faithless, foundering and wandering sinful nature and suffered in every way that you have suffered. In His body on the cross He knew your every concern, your every care and your every need He still knows your weaknesses, your hunger and your pain and suffers with you. He assesses perfectly your needs even when you do not know them, provides food, clothing and shelter to you. It may not be five course meals, designer clothing and a mansion on the hill but He still provides all these things still. And for you who have been called by baptism He continues to feed your spiritual needs in His church. Providing a faithful man to feed you with the very word of God. A faithful watchman to provide the Lord Himself as heavenly food that has no end. We see that today; our Lord looked up into Heaven and gave thanks and the people took and ate, and it was here that He foreshadowed the Eucharist that He would institute for the edification of both your soul and your body. God comes to you in bread and wine in the simple element of water all inseparably tied to the Word of God that you might live now and forever. He comes to you in the preached word that you might be fed and be satisfied. For your gracious Lord provides more than you need, abundantly overflowing that you might have life fully now and forever more.