"Food for faith" Mark 6: 30-44 (The Food we need - 1) Sermon Pr. Lucas Albrecht Sunday July 22nd 2018 Season of Pentecost
Text: Mark 6:30-44
Theme: Food for faith – (The Food we need series)
Intr – In the text today, we see Jesus feeding people with this:
(Fish) It Provides Instant Energy / Low in Calories It Improves Cardiovascular Health /For Psychological Health / It Treats Insomnia / For Strong Muscles / For Strong Bones
“Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. Fish is packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients that can lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
(Loaves) “Bread is a staple of the human diet. After thousands of years, it remains the most regularly consumed food in the world, due to its convenience, portability, nutrition, and taste.(...) Calciun, Fibre, Iron.(...) While commercial food producers splash all sorts of health-related claims on packaging, a lot of the front-of-package labeling is just to entice consumers. For your healthiest bread options, look for whole-grain breads with short ingredient lists (not too much longer than flour, water, yeast, and salt). Bonus points for buying from artisan bakers or making your own.”
1 – Food for the body
_That’s what Jesus provided them with. Fish and loaves
_First thing that stands out: It was a miracle. Jesus is the one who can do miracles. He can feed you even when you think you ran out of food. Just...bring it to Him. A miracle is a miracle, there is no rational explanation to it. We should not try to reduce the Bible to the size of our minds.
_Why would He bother to do that? There were thousands of people there. His schedule was possibly jam packed. He might as well have given an excuse and cleared out. But Jesus was completely bound to His mission and His people.
-When you see a family in a situation of real phsysical need, what do you do?
And when you see someone on spiritual or mental ignorance or deficiency, would you just confirm it to them? Or would your heart be touched and you’d feel compelled to help, promoting compassion and teaching?
_St.Mark tells us that Jesus saw all those people as sheep without a shepherd. Would He just turn His back and say “Well, you get what you attract. If they are in that situation, that’s possibly because they are atracting it into their lives with their acts and feelings”. Rather, He taught them, and healed them.
2 – FOOD FOR FAITH
_But Jesus also provided other type of food those people needed. And it happened prior to the multiplying fish and loaves. (Back to the introduction, using it as an ilustration for the feeding of souls) to the feeding of their bodies.
_Food for faith. That’s the business Jesus was in. That’s the business we are in. We can and we should help people in many different ways, promoting compassion and care. But our ultimate business – something no one else would do, neither government, neither social instituions, or food banks – is to bring solid and consistent food for faith. Food that is able to sustain them lifelong.
_At which tables have you been sitting? Of course, this table here at church. But what happens when you sit down and have a very healthy luch, but for supper you bombard your blood flow with fries, saturaded food and extra portions of salt? And if you do the same for the next couple days?
_Jesus offers a spiritual, healthy food that nourishes our life. ”A good word can carry a person through a long difficult time." Now imagine what The Good Word can do for our souls, for our lives?
_How do we receive food? By hearing to, and being nurtured by His Word. (Illustration )
_Listen to Him. He has the food you need to feed your soul and your life.
3 – What type of food
_Basically there are three types of food in our lives: The food We eat / we loong for / we need
_Where those people asked what they would like to have, would they have chosen brocoli and aspargus? Raw coleslaw with unsalted beans? A rhubarb donut with seeds of soy? I don’t think so. Jesus might have had a survey. “Ask people what they’d like to have". Since he was up to make a miracle, why not have people really impressed?
_When we talked about fish and loaves earlier, we see that there’s some controversy about bread being or not good for you. Also, that report says it is better if you bake your own. Here’s where the illustration breaks. Christ is the one who can provide the bread of life. With our own hands, all we do is a menu full of sweet tasting treats that are ill generating goods for our hearts.
_Jesus gives people the food they need. If what we need and what we like come togther, that’s the best of both worlds. But we need to be aware that God’s food for soul, As opposed to so many things we see around taht are so sweet to our eyes, and ears, but completely dangerous to our hearts. sometimes God's Word may bitter in our mouth, but it is always perfect and healthy for our hearts.
Cc - ”Life is short.”, we hear it all the time. From the doctors, we hear also that it can be shorter if you eat unhealthy food. The same is valid for our Spiritual life – which is the most important. If ingredients from the Creation like fish ans loaves can nurture us so well, what about the Words from the Creator Himself? Word and Sacraments feed our faith, bringing us His love for our whole life, and generating care and compassion towars our neighbour. The food we need.
Intr - In the Gospel today we heard that Jesus fed 5,000 men, and maybe more than that, when you add women and kids (up to 20,000 maybe if you count them) and He fed them with this:
“It is filled with omega 3, vitamins such as D & B2 rich in calcium and phosphorus, and a great source of minerals. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times per week as part of a healthy diet. So Jesus gives them fish and nourishes them with all of this and it helps also to reduce the risk of a heart attack,” this website says.
The other thing is this is “a staple in the human diet. After thousands of years it remains the most regularly consumed food in the world due to its convenience, portability, nutrition and, of course, taste. It has calcium, fibre, iron”, and then this website says, “for your healthiest bread options, you shouldn’t eat white bread but whole grains. Bonus points if you are buying from an artisan baker or making your own.”
In the Gospel we see Jesus caring about those people’s bodies. Sometimes we say, “well. my church has 500 souls”, but actually I see some bodies in front of me right now. So as a church we are soul and body. And Jesus takes care of us as a whole and He shows it here, He gives them fish and loaves. Now, he didn’t get a truck or semi-trailer and go to some wholesale house and buy thousands of fish and thousands of loaves. He has 5 loaves, and 2 fish, [and shares it with] 5,000 men.
Here is the 1st takeaway from our Gospel today. Jesus actually goes and makes a miracle. He goes out there asks His disciples to bring to Him fish and loaves. And He makes a miracle. Sometimes I read here and there texts trying to find the physics or a rationale behind Jesus miracles. For example, when He walks on the water, some people say there was sort of a rocky path under the water where Jesus stepped on, and though with the wind and the waves, He remained on His feet. And even though Peter as an experienced fisherman, he grew up in that area, he sinks, he doesn’t find the rocks there. So even if that would be possible, it is still a miracle because Jesus walks in the midst of a storm.
Sometimes when we try to find explanations to actual miracles, we will be get in a conundrum, in cul-de-sacs and dead ends because then we will have to explain rationally Trinity, we have to explain how God died on the cross, how did the Bible become the Word of God, being inspired by God and so forth.
It is interesting that we Christians can look into the Bible and see these as miracles, we need not to reduce it to the size of our minds. That’s what we do when we try to explain miracles and find logic behind it....we are reducing God’s power to the size of what my mind can understand and bear.
It is good that Jesus does miracles and He shows that He does miracles in their lives back then and today in our lives, because sometimes, when we are in trouble in life, we may run out of alternatives because we try to think rationally what we should do. “I don’t think God will help me here or there and is there a solution for this...”, and we don’t leave room for God to make miracles and to open unexpected doors for us. Jesus opened an unexpected door for His disciples. “Bring it to Me.” That’s what He says. Mark actually doesn’t write this, but we know from the other Gospels we know that Jesus said, “bring it to Me.” Do not bring it to the baker and have him make more loaves, bring it to Me. That is the Word from Christ and also for you. Bring it to Me. I am the one who does miracles.
Jesus might have turned His back because the disciples even suggested, “Hey Jesus why don’t You give them a excuse I have to go, I have an commitment, My schedule is full, let’s just take off, we’ll give them some excuse and You can go and do whatever, because we are tired, let’s have some rest.” Jesus does not do that because He was bound to His mission, He was completely bound to His mission which was to meet people. He wanted to be with them, He wanted to help them. He wanted to connect with them.
When you see a family with kids that is in dire straits, maybe even they don’t have anything to eat for that evening, what do you do? “Come here I will pray with you, God bless you, bye, I hope you find food!”, and then you go? That’s not what we do, if we have conditions or have a how to, we will surely try to help and connect. If we see people in personal problems or who have some ignorance about something that they could improve their knowledge, would we just confirm that in them? Of course not, we will try to help. We try to be with them, that is what Jesus did. The text says He looks to all those people... He runs to them, He even got to where they were going before them because He was compassionate. He looks at them and sees a sheep without a shepherd, He cares for them.
The text mentions that Jesus for sure helps their physical needs, gives them fish and loaves. But before that, when Jesus looks at them, those sheep without a shepherd, then He is compassionate about them. And the text says He began to teach them, not a couple of things, not some things, the text says, He began to teach them many things. Jesus was concerned also about their spiritual health. He wanted to bring them not only food for the body but also food for the soul.
That way we can bring back again the illustration from the beginning and say that if Jesus gave them energy, low calories, and cardiovascular health and so forth, from fish and loaves, as a convenient portable nutrition, that is what He brought as well for their souls, their spiritual life. He brought instant energy with His Word. His Word improves cardiovascular health. Here we are particularly speaking about our heart nutrition; He nourishes our heart and tastes good because it brings God’s love to our hearts and nourishes our strength in Him. And interestingly enough, they say here, “fish helps with insomnia.” God’s Word can sometimes even treat insomnia for us as well. Sometimes we lose our sleep over some sorrow or something someone did to us or something we did to someone, because we just can’t get past that. When we receive God’s forgiveness and really believe that it really forgives us, it wipes away, washes away all our sins, our conscience is back to normal again and we can sleep really well. And when it comes to loaves, the Word is also convenient, handy and is always around, it’s portable, you can read your Bible today anywhere in the world mostly, if you have a cell phone and a connection.
So those are the ingredients Jesus brings to them with His Word because He is compassionate about people, He is compassionate about you. He wants to feed you, He wants to be right by your side because food for faith was the business Jesus was in and this is the business we are in as the church. Of course, we will help people, when we can provide them food or clothing, or even further can help some people to be educated and what else we can do as a church to help people, we will surely do. But our main business, if I can put it that way, is to bring them food for faith, because this is something no government, no food bank will do, no institution in the world would do, at least with not the same commitment as Christians do. We want to bring people, of course, all the help we can, but mainly, we want to bring them, food for their faith. Jesus is proposing a spiritual healthy food that nourishes life.
The other day I saw a phrase that is more or less like this: a good word can carry a person through a long, difficult time. Isn’t that true? You are under a difficult time, and then someone says, “how I admire you! you are so nice! You are a beautiful person! I really appreciate you!” When we hear things being said about us that motivates us. sometimes we go through 1 month or 2 or 3 months just with that word of encouragement. “I am with you, I like you, I love you.” So now, talk about the Word of God bringing us everything we need to undergo all the difficult times we undergo in life! When we are talking about receiving food for faith from God to our lives, we are talking about listening to Him.
Now I was hearing about this illustration about this father talking to a friend, and he says, “You know, I can’t understand my teenage son, he simply wouldn’t listen to me.” And then the friend said, “Let’s recap it, you don’t understand him because he doesn’t listen to you?”. “Yes, that is what I just said, it’s crazy...I can’t understand it, he doesn’t listen to what I say”. And the friend goes again, “Let’s recap again. You don’t understand because he doesn’t listen to you?.” “Yes, that is what I just said”. Then the friend said, “I thought that in order to understand someone, you need to listen to them, not them listening to you.”
If you really want to understand them, listen to them and then maybe bring some good word of advice. That is how we sometimes we may be caught in not finding answers from God because we might be trying to give them, like, “I don’t understand God, because I already said to Him what I like...”. Sometimes it is a matter of going back to His Word, listening carefully if you have hearing loss, reading it and receiving from any means that goes to your heart.Then we understand him well and better........We can pray upon that. We can work upon that. We can live upon God’s promises for life. When we listen to him, we receive the food that we need.
When it comes to the food that we have every day, there are 3 types of food basically that we have: 1)The food we eat, the ones that are there; 2)the food we long for: “I wish I could have a BBQ mid January!...” And 3)the food that we need. Basically those 3 types of food.
So were Jesus to go out with a survey with all those people sitting on the grass... like “what do you want to eat today?”, he might as well think, “since I am up to a miracle, let’s really impress them, let’s make a personalized menu.” He just asks, “what do we have? fish and loaves!”. That’s it...that is what you are having because that is what you need right now.
Sometimes we hear the Word of God and that is not what we long for. We need that Word of God though. That food for our faith to nourish our hearts to keep us going with Him to help us through the difficult times that we have in life. And it is also important to have this healthy food regularly. If you for example go and have a very healthy lunch, only healthy food for your body but later then at supper, you get all fries and hamburger and saturated fats and things like that, and the next few days you do the same thing again, how healthy and unbalanced can your body be with 1 healthy compared to 5 other unhealthy dinners?
That rings true also in your spiritual life. We have healthy food here at church. We have healthy food available at home with our daily life with Christ. If we keep eating in different tables that bring those saturated fats into our spiritual life, how do we expect to stay healthy?...
It is always good to be out in the world and interact with lots of things that are out there but also coming back to God’s Word and here at His house, at our home in our Bible, on our cell phone reading the Bible if that is the case. That’s where we get healthy food to keep us going to keep us strengthened in Christ. Jesus gives always the food that we need sometimes it’s not the food that we want at that moment, but it is always good for us because even if the law accuses us of our sins, His Gospel restores us with His forgiveness and His love that He obtained on the cross for each one of us.
Cc - In conclusion, I remember that short phrase, “Life is Short’. We hear it all the time. And from the doctors we learn it can be even shorter if we eat wrong. If we eat unhealthy food.
That rings also true for our spiritual life. Spiritual Life can be short or shorter depending on which table we sit at to eat. So now if those ingredients from the creation, fish and loaves, Jesus was able to make that big miracle, what about the Word of the creator Himself, to our hearts and our souls, how much nourishment will He bring to our hearts..yes His Word and Sacraments. God’s Word to our lives.
It brings us whole life, it brings us forgiveness, it brings us new life, and generates care and compassion to others.
That is what the food from God does. That is the food that we need. Amen.