He Who Provides for the Soul Will Also Provide for the Body
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear family in Christ:
I have just a short message for you today from God’s Word, some thoughts from the Gospel for today, the Feeding of the Four Thousand, Mark 8:1-9. (You may wish to follow along on the insert with today’s Propers printed on it.)
In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days 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.” Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away. (NKJV)
The Feeding of the Four Thousand has a lot in common with the Feeding of the Five Thousand. They both teach us to trust in Jesus, who is compassionate and kind to all who come to Him.
You might say, they teach the same lesson, but from opposite directions. In the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the people were flocking to Jesus for physical healing and outward signs, for help with their bodily needs. And Jesus did help them. He gave them physical bread so that they might recognize Him as the living Bread from heaven. He taught them this from the lesser to the greater: If they could trust Him to take care of their lesser needs, their bodily, temporary needs, then they could certainly trust Him when it came to their greater needs, their spiritual and eternal needs. They should look to Him, not only for bread that will perish, but for righteousness that will not perish, for the forgiveness of sins, for words of everlasting life.
The Feeding of the Four Thousand is a lesson from the greater to the lesser. The crowds had already been hanging on the words of Jesus for three days. They had left house and home and career for days, just to hear Him and be with Him. First, He gives them His Word, and with it, faith, and with faith, eternal life. Then, to these four thousand who have left house and home to follow Him, to these who believe in Him for help with their spiritual, eternal needs, He shows special compassion in providing for their bodily, momentary needs, and He does it richly and abundantly.
That’s like what Paul said to the Romans in chapter 8: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? In other words, if God’s mercy is so great that He looked down at the world of sinners and sacrificed His beloved Son on the cross for them all—for us all, if He loved us so much that He sent His Gospel to us and called us out of darkness and made us His children through faith in Christ Jesus, do you really think He doesn’t care if you have enough to eat and to drink? Do you think His mercy is too small to cover your bodily needs? Of course not.
No, we see in our Gospel the kindness and compassion of Jesus and His eagerness to provide for soul and body. And so we learn here to trust in Jesus to provide. He has already provided atonement for all sins, to redeem both our soul and our body from hell. He has already provided His Spirit in the Gospel to call you to faith in Him, to dwell among you and to work among you through Word and Sacrament.
If He has already provided all this for our eternal welfare, then trust in Him also to provide for all your earthly needs. If you don’t see how He will provide, well, you don’t have to see. The disciples didn’t see how Jesus could possibly feed four thousand people in the middle of the desert. That didn’t stop Jesus from providing. Reason has to see. Reason has to know and understand and have it all laid out before your eyes. But faith says, even though I can’t see right now, even though it seems impossible right now, God has promised, and that is that.
He has already provided for us here at Emmanuel—for our families and for our church, for our souls and for our bodies. He has done it in ways that no one could have imagined even a year ago. And He will do it. Because God is faithful, and His mercies are new every morning.
If God has taken it upon Himself to worry about our souls and our bodies, then we are left to worry about neither. Instead, we are left to thank God, with heart and hands and voices. We are left to rejoice in God’s compassion and in God’s forgiveness. We are left, as Jesus says in Matthew chapter 6, to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Let your concern be for God’s Word, for Christ’s righteousness, and for eternal life as God’s gift to you in Christ Jesus. Let your concern be for serving your neighbor and providing for his needs, since you know that the same God who loved you enough to give His Son for you, will also graciously give you all things, out of pure fatherly goodness. Peace be with you. Amen.