Today’s Reading: Mark 8:1-9
“I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.” (Mark 8:2)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Speaking of kings (see yesterday’ s Reflection), here we see Jesus, doing what good kings do: providing for His people in their time of need. Jesus has gone into the wilderness and crowds have followed Him, eager to hear His words of eternal life. In their eagerness, they took no thought for their own provision, and now they are in danger of fainting from hunger on the way home.
Jesus has compassion on them. But it’s also a test for His disciples. He wants them to learn to imitate His compassionate ways. There are a few factors that might get in the way of their compassion. First, the crowd is made up of mostly Gentiles, people traditionally looked down upon and despised by the Jews. Second, one could argue that the people are in this situation due to their own negligence. What were they thinking, wandering off into the wilderness without bringing provisions? How irresponsible of them! Third, the disciples themselves have only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. If they share what they have, they may find themselves fainting on the way home.
With these three strikes against compassion, the disciples fail the test. “How can we feed THESE people in this desolate place? They’re Gentile sinners. They should have been more responsible. They have only themselves to blame. We came prepared. Why should we share with them and go hungry ourselves?”
Jesus is undeterred. He has compassion on the people. And, as God in the flesh, He provides for their needs. His compassion also extends to His disciples. He doesn’t condemn them for their failure. He has them distribute the food so that they will learn to love sinners as He loves sinners. He feeds them, too, with more to spare. Thus, they learned to trust Jesus, and to be generous, even in times of scarcity. And by this example, so do we.
“Praise Him for His grace and favor To His people in distress; Praise Him still the same as ever, Slow to chide and swift to bless: Alleluia, Alleluia! Glorious in His faithfulness” (LSB 793, st.2). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O God, whose never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth, we humbly implore You to put away from us all hurtful things and to give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity)
-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.