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Trinity 7 – Mark 8:1-9

by pastorjuhl ~ July 16th, 2010

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

So often we find ourselves saying “I want” or “I need” when the things we want or need are unnecessary. Call me a stickler for grammar, but it bothers me when I hear people at fast-food restaurants say “I need a hamburger” or “I want to super size my value meal”. We need fast food like we need a hole in the head! Thank God nutritional information is more public than before. One look at how many calories and the amount of sodium and saturated fat in fast food might keep you from “wanting” or “needing” it.

There is one thing needful: the treasure of the Gospel. Everything that we need to support this body and life flows from the Gospel. God’s providential care over earthly concerns is His merciful Gospel in action. The action shifts to the wilderness in Mark chapter eight where Jesus has been teaching for three days. Jesus has compassion on the multitude because of the long span of time without no food or drink.

It’s hard enough for us to go three hours without food or drink, let alone three days. We are blessed beyond reason with options for food and drink. A trip to the grocery store provides too many choices. The multitude doesn’t have a choice of what to eat. There are seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. They get what they get and they don’t complain.

Our Lord’s disciples, on the other hand, don’t so much complain as they don’t trust in what Jesus could do. Their question is how can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness? When your choices are limited, you should be thankful for what you receive. Nevertheless, we are spoiled with choices and options and decisions that we get to make instead of someone making that decision for us.

Adam once rejoiced in God making choices for him. The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed…. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. God lays it all out for Adam. “Here’s a garden. Go to work. It won’t be hard work. I’ll give you everything you need to make your food grow. Look at all the trees I have given you. Enjoy eating their fruit. But please don’t eat from that one particular tree lest you die.” Simple, no?

Perhaps it was too simple for Adam and his wife. They wanted to be like God so they trusted the serpent’s words instead of God’s Word. Adam would continue to till the ground, but it was much more difficult than before. Not everything given to him would be good for him. Sin and death entered the world and made our wants and needs more important that what God wants us to need.

The prophet Isaiah writes, why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? We’re back to our original question: what do we need or want from life? God knows what we need. We need His forgiveness and life. We need to trust in His providential care. If He gives us eternal things, why would He not give us heavenly things?

Instead of demanding the kind of bread you want in the wilderness, repent and receive the daily bread God gives you. He knows what you need before you ask it. He teaches you exactly what to ask for and when to ask for it. Recall the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: Give us this day our daily bread. This petition is in fourth place in the list of things Jesus asks us to pray. First comes letting His Name be holy. Then comes letting His kingdom come. Third is letting His will be done for us on earth as it is in heaven. Daily bread is fourth, with forgiveness, keeping us from temptation and delivering us from evil following.

The three petitions before daily bread put everything into perspective for a Christian. The one thing needful is hearing the Word of God and keeping it. God’s will for us is to hear and keep His Word. When these are done, daily bread comes even when we don’t ask for it. Taking the long view and looking at what our heavenly Father does for us in the spiritual realm fixes our eyes to receive daily bread with thanksgiving.

Saint Paul encourages the Roman Christians to take the long view too. Now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Freedom from sin is far greater than a double cheeseburger, large fries, and a chocolate shake. The same Jesus Who feeds four thousand men, not including women and children, in the wilderness from seven loaves of bread and a few fish also sheds His blood for your sin and rises from the dead triumphant over death and hell. The last chapters of the four Gospels do not focus on Jesus providing material goods for those who ask Him. They focus on the one thing you need: forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.

Our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection are why the Bible was written. Saint John writes these [words] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. What Adam and Eve undid in the Garden of Eden is redone by Jesus Christ. Jesus is raised on the tree of life to give His life as a ransom for your sin. Creation is restored. Everything old is new again. The stain of sin is washed away. God’s gift for you is eternal life, wrought by His only-begotten Son when He rose from the dead. Instead of slavery to sin, you are in slavery to God. It is a freeing slavery because the yoke of Christ is easy and light. The yoke of Christ may not seem so easy and light when crosses burden your life. Take heart! One has borne the cross before you, making all crosses a blessing because from the worst things life gives comes the hope Jesus gives that we shall not die, but live, and declare His works.

There’s a hymn we’re going to sing in a couple of weeks that works not only for that Sunday but also for this Sunday. The hymn is called “One Thing’s Needful”. It’s an odd hymn because the tune changes meter in the middle of the hymn. Don’t let that throw you in a couple weeks! In preparation for singing this hymn, listen to this stanza.

One thing’s needful; Lord, this treasure
Teach me highly to regard.
All else, though it first give pleasure,
Is a yoke that presses hard!
Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,
No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.
This one is needful; all others are vain –
I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain.

Everything Jesus Christ is He gives to you, even forgiveness of sins and life. God grant it for His sake.

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

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