Monday, July 15, 2013

Sermon for 7/14/13--Trinity 7



No Feast for the Eyes

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Do not be deceived by what you see. To human eyes, it does not look like much of a feast. A few fish and seven small loaves of bread don’t seem like much when compared to the lavish feasts depicted on television. But with these meager gifts and the power of the Word, Jesus feeds four thousand men. The unbelieving world looked strangely upon the feast that Jesus set before the hungry crowd of 4,000 in the wilderness. Seven loaves and a few small fish might have been enough to serve as a meal for a few men, but certainly not anything approaching 4,000. Yet these starving people “ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments.” Do not let Satan deceive you into seeing anything less than a miracle in this event. Do not allow the unbelieving world to undermine your trust in the true Word of God when it claims that this could not possibly be a true account of what actually happened. See in your mind’s eye the picture that the Holy Spirit of God is painting here: a portrait of a true feast from which every guest leaves completely satisfied.

The Sacrament of the Altar is that kind of feast. For this feast here and the feast for the 4,000 in the wilderness have the same Host and the same guests. The Host is Jesus, God Himself. The guests are faith-filled Christians, the people of God. The very same Jesus is here today, as He was there in on that day in the wilderness, to provide for His starving people and to satisfy completely your hunger. You are invited to see yourself in that feast in the wilderness. You are in the same condition spiritually as those four thousand were physically. You are on the journey through the wilderness of life with Jesus. You hear His Word which teaches you about your sin. His Holy Spirit convicts you of seeing greater importance in the things of the world—fortune, fame, work, play—than the things of God.

But the same God Who by His Word and Spirit condemns you for your sin has compassion upon you. He says, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me…and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Jesus knows that you are one of the faithful who have continued with Him in faith. He knows that you are starving for a righteousness you do not possess. He knows that if He does not provide it, you will faint dead away in your sins as you attempt to journey to your heavenly home without the nourishment He provides.

Jesus has been there Himself. It was in the wilderness that Jesus encountered the temptations of the devil. Jesus Himself was hungry during that time in the wilderness, continuing with God His Father forty days and having nothing to eat. He knows that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Out of compassion for a starving people, Jesus provides that bread to His people in the wilderness.

Do not be deceived by what you see. To human eyes, it does not look like much of a feast. Small wafers of unleavened bread—a bland bread made without yeast—which, if we took all of the wafers on the Altar this morning and pressed them together, wouldn’t amount to a dinner roll. Wine—an inexpensive, sweet, Concord grape wine, maybe a pint of it on this Altar. Together, this amount of food might barely serve as a light snack for one person. Yet with this meager fare and the power of the Word, Jesus will feed and satisfy all His guests who approach His altar.

Behold the feast that Your Savior presents to you today. Feast upon the Word that proceeds out of His mouth today, the Word that promises you forgiveness and salvation. Come, as often as it is offered here, to feast on the Bread of Life that is never exhausted, for He miraculously multiplies this Bread so that He might continue to give His flesh for the life of the world. Come and partake of not mere bits of bread and sips of wine, but of a most splendid Feast: the Feast of the glorified Body and Blood of your Savior, a foretaste of the feast to come with Him in eternity. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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