October 2017  
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8-6-17 Sermon

Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul.  By the work of the Holy Spirit help us to acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience. Through Christ our LORD.  Amen

                The Gospel story of Jesus “Feeding the 5,000” is found in all 4 Gospels, but it’s based on 5,000 men that were fed.  The total numbers likely doubled—with the women and children being fed as well.

                 Mark’s Gospel emphasizes that Jesus sees the crowds as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  

                In Luke’s Gospel the emphasis is on Jesus teaching the people and speaking to them of the kingdom of God Jesus had come to establish.

                John includes the fact that Jesus was testing His disciples in this matter, because He already knew what He was going to do.

                Matthew’s Gospel account has one focus:  Jesus is compassionate.  But what does “compassion” look like?  First of all, compassion is not practical. The disciples, like most of us, were practical. They knew the ways of the world.  They knew the value of a dollar/denarii and so in their minds, they thought it was practical—reasonable, for Jesus to send the crowds away.

               This was a desolate place, in the middle of nowhere.     

                       The day was almost over.

                 And very likely, the disciples’ own stomachs were growling with hunger. So realistically, sending the crowd away was the best choice.  But Jesus isn’t concerned about practicality. He’s compassionate.                                                                                     

                 Compassion often interrupts our lives and stops what we were doing.  

                 Compassion puts someone else’s need 1st, and goes out of the way to help.                      

                 Compassion means sacrificing time, or money, or energy, or sleep, or whatever it takes to get it done.  That’s why compassion is scare in our world: tight budgets, little time, and lots of demands--compassion just isn’t practical.

                So how does Jesus respond to His practical disciples? He invites them to be compassionate with Him. These people don’t need to leave; you give them something to eat.   But, but….We have only 5 loaves and 2 fish. 

                Okay…Jesus says: Bring them here to me. 

                Most all of us can relate to the disciples’ frustration, but Jesus isn’t only compassionate with the crowd, he has compassion on His disciples too.                      

                When you have Jesus no place is desolate or empty. 

                When you have Jesus, you even have more than enough to feed thousands of people.   

                But…we think we’re not able.  Or… that we won’t have enough for ourselves. That mentality immediately limits the compassion we have for others…we forget that, with Jesus we have far more than enough.

                So Jesus takes the bread and fish and looking up to His Father, gives thanks.           

                 Thank you for this food.

                 Thank you for these disciples.

                 Thank you for these people.

                 Thank you for the opportunity to feed them.

                 Jesus teaches the disciples what they need to learn: God is not practical - He’s compassionate

                So after giving thanks—which Jesus model’s for all of us—He gives the bread and fish to the disciples, and tells them what he said before:  give them something to eat.   And much to their surprise, they did just that, with more than enough. 

                  Jesus shows us a God who cares about the needs of His people and provides. 

                  But how often are we blind to God’s provision? Blind to our LORD’s compassion? We forget His work and faithfulness in the past. We fall into the trap of trusting only what I have in my hands instead of the fact that we are in His hands.

                  Henry Ward Beecher said, "Every tomorrow has 2 handles.  We can take hold of handle of anxiety or the handle of faith."                                                                                                                                 

                  Jesus had just learned of the death of John the Baptist. He had wanted a quiet place to be alone, but the crowds followed him... he had to feed them. His concern for the living took precedence over His own needs.  When we treat each other as we would treat Jesus we perform miracles in His name.  

                   In the breaking of the bread Jesus draws upon the potential of what is already there. That’s what happens by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as well.  We are empowered to be, and to do, far more than we otherwise could.  Our true identity as people made in the image of God is brought to light.                

                  This Christian life will require us to do impractical things that make no earthly sense – how we spend our money, our time, doing things that may not give us the biggest return in the world’s eyes. Our compassionate God is not practical.    

                 We are called to serve Him who has everything . . . by being compassionate to others. Like Father, like Son. Like Son, like Christians. For when you do it to one of the least of these, Jesus says, you’ve done it unto Me (Matt. 25:4God).

                Because our God will supply every need of ours according to his riches in Christ Jesus the LORD, we are able to show the mercy and compassion of Jesus.