Summary: Pentecost 7B/Proper 11 preached 7/19/2009 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Audubon, Iowa. Some material is from Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 19, No. 3. This sermon talks about how Christ meets the phyiscal and spiritial needs of the crowd in the re
In the 4th petition of The Lord’s Prayer, we are taught to pray the words “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our Gospel reading for this morning is a great illustration of how our Lord goes about answering this petition. And while we usually focus on how Jesus miraculously meets the physical need of hunger by feeding several thousand people, this reading also shows us how our Lord and Savior is our Good Shepherd, in that He provides for not just our physical needs, but how He provides for our spiritual needs as well.
The first thing we recognize this morning is the simple fact that we all have basic needs. First, we have our physical needs, and we’re reminded of that as see two of them in the Gospel reading. You’ll remember in our Gospel reading a couple of weeks back, Jesus sent the disciples out two by two into surrounding towns and villages, where they “went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6:12-13) As our reading for today opens, they have returned to Jesus from their missionary journeys, and they are telling Him everything they did and taught. Needless to say, as exciting as all that activity was, they had to have been exhausted after their journey, so Jesus, knowing that they needed rest, says to them “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (v. 31) In fact, we’re told so many people were coming and going that these guys didn’t even have time to sit down and eat! So they get into a boat with Jesus, and head off to a remote place where they can get away from it all and rest.
Just as the disciples needed a time of rest, we need that too. Especially today, with as busy as our schedules are, and how people are trying to fit in more and more into each day, going from work, to this activity, to this commitment, and so on. This kind of a lifestyle takes its toll on us and we need and treasure our time of rest and renewal. It’s a basic human need.
The other basic need we see comes up once Jesus and the disciples get to their destination, and the crowds they were trying to get away from had anticipated their next move and met them on shore. While Jesus is teaching this crowd, it’s getting late in the day, and they turn to Jesus and say “This is a desolate place and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” (v. 35-36) Everyone needs to eat, right? The disciples see the situation, thousands of people, out in the middle of nowhere, it’s getting close to suppertime, and there’s no restaurants or catering services available. Their question is, essentially, “how are we going to feed these people, Jesus? They have to eat!” Or to put it in language similar to that of the 4th petition of The Lord’s Prayer: “These people need their daily bread. How are we going to supply it?” And, that’s a question we face on a daily basis, too, isn’t it? Especially when we lose our source of income, we wonder “how are we going to eat, have a roof over our heads, and clothes on our back, basic stuff we need to support this body and life?