Summary: A Eucharistic Sermon on the Feeding of the Four Thousand
“He Gave Thanks… He Blessed and Gave…”
the Sunday Sermon preached at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church—UAC
for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity
August 3, 2003
by the Rev. Frederick E. Davison, Pastor
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Grace, Mercy, and Peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. [Amen.]
The sermon for the Seventh Sunday after the Holy Trinity is recorded in the Holy Gospel appointed, the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark chapter 8th, with particular focus on these words:
“…and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled…”
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. [Amen.]
With divine economy, the Holy Ghost graces us with Christ’s compassion. Indeed, we, like this little one, cannot subsist alone. We, too, are like babes in a “remote place.” We cannot feed ourselves, From whence can we buy food? What can possibly satisfy our hunger. If we look within we find envy, strife, and all manner of unclean thing. Indeed, like this little one, left to ourselves we “will collapse on the way.”
And so too these crowds, whose pressing need has caused them to come out after Jesus. Old and young alike, a vast crowd, yet though they be many they were *of themselves* “in a remote place.” One of my professors said it this way this week: “That’s a bad thing.” And St. Mark says little of the people—whether they knew of their dire strait or not—Jesus saw their need and had compassion. So too our little Zion—even this tiniest new member.
“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat…” Hearing the Word of God has taken away their self-sufficiency. All that they had was gone. Before God in this “remote place” He was all they had left. Apart from Him they have no hope. Apart from Him “they will faint by the way.” So also we—indeed, even this well-mannered little child.
God’s Law leaves us, as it were, bare and naked without excuse. Indeed the Holy Ghost gives King David to see forward in space and time to this “remote place” saying, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” He found them all in a “remote place.” “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
And thus these people who have followed Jesus their bread-king, “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.” And so His Disciples are judged unfaithful long ago by King David, for they would seek answer for the great need of God’s people—the crowds He drew near—in themselves. “ ‘From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?’ And he asked them, ‘How many loaves have ye?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’ ” Mercifully through St. Mark, the law of Jesus’ sermon is brief. But stark. His disciples don’t have a clue. *They* are the “workers of iniquity” who “call not upon the Lord”—“from whence can a man satisfy?”
Indeed, how can man satisfy such great need? “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” So these faithless men in this remote place. “The wages of sin is death…” They are in this remote place that they may see their futility. Not just their faithlessness, but that they may despair of themselves. How can man satisfy such a great need? A man cannot! What man can make something from nothing? What man? There is no man.
Whence in the beginning in *that* remote place, it was no man, but God Himself who breathed life into His nostrils. So also can no man in a “remote place” make bread from stones.
Yet *this* man, “commanded the people to sit down… and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.”
“And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.”
And as I said, with a divine economy, the Holy Ghost sets the Word before you saying, “take and eat.” Indeed, what is it that the Holy Ghost writing by St. Mark would have us Christians recall in these words of Jesus? What is it that He intends for you to ponder, to think, at the reading and re-reading of His gospel in the Church? Let the Gospel ring in your ears and answer. Jesus “took… gave thanks, and brake…” and then, “He blessed…” And what happened? “They did eat and were filled…”