The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost – August 6th, 2017
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Give us this day our daily bread. The Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Fits our text to a “T” – and it should – our lesson is Jesus’ giving “daily bread” to a famished crowd who followed him all day! A point of fact right here at the beginning, before I go further. The more familiar you become with the whole of Holy Scripture, the better you see how Jesus’ words all hang together, and are directed at our good in every good way.
“Gee, Pastor everyone knows that!” Uh, yeah . . . except we don’t live like we know it. We live like most everything depends on us, and only when something is too big for us to handle – well – then, yeah, we turn to the Lord, because it is only then we realize that He provides our EVERY need, not just those we can’t.
I was quite delighted to cover for Pastor Lutjens, especially because he has a high teaching emphasis on Luther’s Small Catechism, which is, as our Divine Liturgy says: “Truly good, right and salutary.” So let us hear the meaning of the Fourth Petition:
Give us this day our daily bread.
What does this mean?
God gives daily bread to everyone, even those who are evil, without our prayers; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know this, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
What is meant by daily bread ?
Everything that belongs to the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, property, fields, animals, money, goods, a believing spouse, believing children, believing servants, believing and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and so on.
Doesn’t miss anything in our lives, does it? A cause for a pause to think. But the skeptic is always among us, asking – “Yeah but what is it supposed to really mean??” Well . . . glad you asked that!
I always wake up in a good mood (for which I am thankful!). Groggy until my coffee, perhaps, but a good mood. Now – when I go to bed I prayed Luther’s Evening Prayer, asking to Lord to “keep me this night.” Obviously He did. I start with the Lord’s Prayer, and Luther’s Morning Prayer, when I ask the Lord to “keep me from sin and every evil” all the day long. So – daily bread and protection from the devil to begin with! Then I say the Apostles’ Creed, and sing the either the “Glory Be” or the Common Doxology. And finally, like all of us, I go out and act as if I hadn’t asked the Lord for any help whatsoever! “You gotta get this or that done today, jb!”
NO!!! You know, we have been fed a line that is popular, but very misleading. It goes like this: “Believe as if it depends on God. Do whatever as if it depends on you.”
Well, yeah but – St. James put it a different way – “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” But do we? Do we mean it when we ask the Lord for our daily bread, which is so chock full of everything in our lives, and then turn around and in all our words and actions make it depend on ourselves?
And perhaps – more to the point – do we dutifully say our prayers, imploring God to do, in Christ, that which He daily and richly does, and instead – begin to worry about what could wrong, or what’s not settled? That is probably the weakest point in my faith – worrying! And worrying worms its way into every facet of our lives! We all do it, and we know down deep it is part of our sinful nature – we must always pray with the father of the demonic:
“Lord! I believe! Help Thou my unbelief!”
Jesus put that to rest, didn’t he? – “Do not be anxious, your Heavenly Father knows you need these things. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these other things shall be added unto you.”
Our text stand in perfect witness to that – the crowd had followed Jesus and heard Him preach the Wisdom from on high, and Himself as fulfillment in their very midst. When it came time for a meal – the Apostles wanted to send them all into town for food. Jesus instead said – “You feed them!” Huh? “Lord all we have are five loaves and fish!” The Apostles could count – notice our text says: “And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” So it would be fair to estimate the crowd at 10,000 or more! They must have thought the Lord was a bit off in the head, so He said to them:
“Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing.
He broke the loaves (is any of this sounding familiar to what we shall do shortly from the Altar?) and had the Apostles hand it all out. They only had 12 baskets full of the remains. A miracle! Of course! Explain it? I couldn’t if I tried, any more than I can explain the miracle at the Lord’s Supper! But the very next 12 verses that follow our text (which are also next Sunday’s Gospel), will help us even further in getting a handle on it all.
But what just happened there? The Apostles are us – “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” They were reasoning like all of us do each day. They were not using St. James’ dictum:
“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’”
Yep. It’s what we miss, even as we pray the Lord’s Prayer! I can’t explain any miracle, but Jesus is here telling us – “Okay, guys, let Me show you how the Father does it!“ And then He did. Whoa! A miracle, and we miss the big picture altogether, just as did the Apostles.
It is the Lord’s intent for us TO KNOW – through our text, in the Lord’s Prayer, and as we walk daily in our lives. Is not our very breathing and waking up a miracle??? Pray the Lord to guide your path and your ways and your thinking, and as Luther would put it – “Then go your way, and be assured that the Lord heard you!’ This is not rocket science, but it is operating in the Faith we were given in our Baptisms (your present Catechismal study), and continuously fed in the Word, and especially – here at the Altar, where the Living Bread of Life feeds us Himself, that He might be within us and changes us from sinners to saints. Rocket science can’t even come close, and I just gave away the answer to my earlier question about “Sound familiar?” Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them to share, which he will have me do in my Office as Pastor in a short while at that Altar. As I said – everything Jesus said and did hangs together – it is us – we – who get conflicted and confused with each going his own way, until the Lord yet again enlightens us with His Word and the Sacraments.
You see – It is exactly what Isaiah wrote of the Lord just three verses after our first reading: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.”
Worrying will hurt our faith; it can make us doubt God hears us or is actually already working to fulfill our prayers of faith! When we Lutherans talk about the Means of Grace – especially in Holy Baptism, the preaching of the Gospel, and in the culmination of it all – at that Holy Altar in Christ’s Own Body and Blood – God is telling us that in Christ – through the Holy Spirit, through the means of grace, He gives us all we need to live our lives and strengthen our Faith as His Holy Church. And He gives us His own Prayer to pray – that the few loaves and fish of our problems in life might be multiplied to be sufficient in all we need. We look at the Cross of Christ and see where that promise was fulfilled, and sealed until the Lord returns again.
Yet again this very morning He is telling us and reminding us that it is He who provides “our daily bread” – our every need in this life, and to fully prepare us for the life to come!
By Faith, and in preaching and the Sacraments, Christ comes to us personally, and we have – in Jesus – not only our daily bread – but Christ within us – and all the riches of Heaven!
Can we do better than that??!!