Sermon for Pentecost 10 – 8.6.23

+ 10th Sunday after Pentecost – August 6th, 2023 +

Series A: Isaiah 55:1-5; Romans 9:1-13; Matthew 14:13-21

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Compassion and Action”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

If you’ve ever seen a Pierce County fire engine, look closely, and you’ll notice their slogan painted on the side: “Where Compassion and Action Meet.” When a fire breaks out they don’t arrive on the scene just to sit back and watch your neighbor’s house burn and say, “Well, I sure do feel sorry for those folks…hope someone comes and helps them out.” No. they turn on the hose and fight the fire.

 

Something similar, although far greater, is happening in today’s Gospel reading. In Jesus’ life and ministry, in his teaching and healing, in his dying and rising, Jesus is where God’s compassion and action meet.

 

Our reading begins with Jesus having just heard the tragic news of his cousin, John the Baptist’s death at the birthday party for King Herod. He attempts to withdraw to a desolate place. To grieve. To pray. To sit in silence in communion with the Father. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

 

Matthew reveals not only Jesus’ outward actions, but his inner motivation. How he cares for those he meets. Splanchnidzomai is the word behind the phrase “he had compassion.” Jesus has a gut-wrenching, feel-it-in-your stomach compassion for the broken and feeble, the helpless, hopeless, and hungry. And for you. For Jesus, compassion is more than a feeling. For Jesus, compassion and action are one in the same. Jesus has compassion on the crowds and heals them. Later he feeds them. He goes on to bleed, suffer, and die for them and for you. In Jesus, God’s compassion and action are on full display to feed, provide, rescue and save. In Jesus, compassion and action meet.

 

The disciples, however, didn’t understand this yet. 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.” 

 

The disciples’ request is understandable, to a point. After all, it was evening. They were tired. Hungry. And no doubt asking themselves the same question this crowd and Israel long ago had asked. “Is this Jesus really the one God has sent to save us? How is he going to provide for us out here in the middle of nowhere?”

 

If we’re honest with ourselves, we probably ask some version of this question on a weekly basis. Will God  provide what we need? How will we pay the bills, raise a family afford retirement, pay for school, pay for the doctor visits, the home-care? Will God take care of my bodily needs, my daily bread? The problem for us, is the same as it was for the disciples. In their lack, in their need, in their emptiness, they still weren’t looking to Jesus as the Master who would provide what was needed.

 

The disciples’ words are understandable, the problem was, though, that they were still not looking to Jesus the Master to provide what was needed. Before this parable reveals Jesus’ compassion and provision, it also reveals our brokenness and need. We are empty and need Christ to fill us with his good gifts of body and soul. We lack and are hungry; the very fact that we have needs is a daily reminder that we do not live on our own but by God’s grace, and that left on our own we are physically and spiritually dead.

 

In the face of all our questions and concerns and needs, Matthew’s answer is clear. Yes, Jesus will provide. When we experience physical and spiritual need, when we wonder if God will really provide and show compassion, look to his cross. Look to where he laid down his life, shed his blood, and died in your place for you. At its root, that’s what the word compassion means, to suffer with. That is exactly what our Lord Jesus did for you.

 

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 gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

 

He has. He does. He will. All for you in Jesus, where God’s compassion and action meet, to save you. And not just in the biggest need of his life and death and resurrection. To be sure, he has that covered for you who are covered in the blood of Jesus. But also in the daily, little things of life.

 

Jesus gives you the daily bread of his word and provides salvation, but also daily bread for our bodily needs. His compassion and action are for you, soul and body. Spiritual and earthly gifts. It was that way for the crowds in Matthew 14 as well. Jesus told his disciples, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”  They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”  And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 

 

You can imagine the disciples looking down at the bread and fish. Looking out at the crowd. Looking back at the bread and fish. “That’s it? That’s not enough.” We come to our Lord the same way. Empty, broken, and in need. Like the disciples, even our best works are meager. All I’ve got is Jesus’ Word and the blood of Jesus on the cross. And yet, Jesus will take our meager selves and uses it all the same. Stuttering Moses. Denying Peter. Doubting Thomas. Fill in our names too. Five loaves. Two fish. Jesus loves taking the ordinary and filling it with his extraordinary grace.

 

Notice how Matthew slowly unveils Jesus’ miracle here. It began with 5 loaves and 2 fish. And yet… All ate. And not just a little bit. All were satisfied. And not just satisfied. 12 baskets leftover. Doggy bags for everyone. A superabundance.

 

Jesus is where God’s compassion and action meet. Here on this Galilean hillside in Matthew 14, but also in an upper room in Matthew 26. Jesus’ words and actions here in the feeding of 5,ooo are echoed later on in the Lord’s Supper. On the night when he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said. Take, eat. This is my body given for you.

 

From the Galilean hillsides to the hills of Milton, Jesus pours out his compassion upon you. In abundance. In Jesus you are no longer broken and feeble, helpless, hopeless, and hungry. In Jesus’ death you have life. In Jesus’ compassion you have comfort. In Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand you have his promise that he will provide for you in body and soul. Today, that’s exactly what Jesus does. He feeds you and heals you his body and blood, a feast of compassion, and abundant grace. And then, when the Supper is over, he sends you out into the world filled with his compassion.

 

After all, in Jesus, God’s compassion and action meet for you…and in you as well. You, his beloved, baptized people are also where his compassion and action meet. It’s true, we cannot take 5 loaves and 2 fish and feeds thousands, but we can love as Christ first loved us. We can show his compassion in our actions. We can in our words and deeds, in our daily vocations be the place where Christ’s compassion and action meet for the sake of those around us. For that is how we live each and every day, in the compassion and care of Christ crucified and risen.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977