INI + AMEN.
Today’s a good day. It’s a good Sunday. It’s good for you. It’s good for me. Jesus, the Lord of the Church, has blessed us. He has sent me into your midst to be His under-shepherd, your pastor. It’s a blessing for me. And He’s blessed you so that you once again have a pastor. The Lord Jesus loves you and me, and that’s why He’s done this. Jesus is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Now, we can bottle all of that up in one word: compassion. Jesus is compassionate, and in our text today we see it. It’s not just about what happened some 2,000 years ago in Galilee but about what Jesus is doing even now in Bremen. You see,
JESUS HAS COMPASSION AND GIVES HIS GIFTS THROUGH HIS CALLED AND SENT ONES.
(I.) This is how it was in Galilee.
Jesus had compassion on the crowds. That’s what St. Mark tells us, “When He went out, He saw a great crowd, and He was heart-wrenched because of them, because they were like sheep who don’t have a shepherd.” They chase after Him! “He teaches with authority,” they’d say, “He’s healed the sick, raised the dead.” They’d never seen or heard anyone like Him before! They were lost, “being tossed to and fro,” until Jesus. And when Jesus sees them, how they run hither and yon to find Him, to hear Him, He can’t help but feel heart-wrenched. Why? They’re acting like they have no shepherd at all, but they do! Jesus is their shepherd. So Jesus has compassion.
Jesus also has compassion on His disciples. He wanted them to rest. Relax. Take a load off. But when the crowd gathers, Jesus gets to work shepherding. Now, the disciples doubted what Jesus could provide. I’m sure they kept on interrupting Him towards the end: “It’s getting pretty late, Jesus. Stop teaching. Your sermon’s gone long enough. Let them go eat. We’re in the desert! We don’t have the money. All we’ve got is five loaves and two fish.” Jesus has compassion on them. He doesn’t say to them, “What’s the matter with you?” No, He doesn’t say anything like that. He’s compassionate. He simply says, “Have them sit down.”
Then, Jesus gives more than the crowd could ever need or want, and He does it through His Twelve. He had called His Twelve Apostles, and they just got back from being sent by Jesus to teach. They got back and “reported all the things they did and taught.” The Lord Jesus gave His Word and teaching through them, then He teaches the crowd many other things. But there’s more. He gives the crowd food through these men, these called and sent ones. The crowd sits down in their “banquet groups on the green grass.” And when they had taken their place on that grass, they sat “in hundreds and fifties.” And there was no reason to doubt that Jesus would provide. He’d given His Word through His Twelve, and He gave even more. So from five loaves and two fish there were 12 large baskets full of left overs for the Twelve, who were also part of the 5,000+ taught and fed by Jesus.
Now, that’s all fine and good, but what good is that for us today? Well, what the Lord did in Galilee some 2,000 years ago He does today. How it was in Galilee is exactly
(II. This is) how it is in Bremen.
Jesus loves you and me just like He loved that crowd. He has compassion on us. Today, you see it; you hear it! You like the crowd were not sheep without a shepherd. Jesus is Great Shepherd of His flock, the church. He cares for each group of sheep, even you at Bethlehem/Immanuel. You were sheep who didn’t have an under-shepherd, a pastor, but now you do! You have your called and sent one. Jesus has called and sent me to you. Like the Twelve I am given to do what the Lord has called and sent me to do: give His gifts to you. You now are given to do what the Lord has gathered you to do: receive from me what I give from Jesus. Just as those groups of 100s and 50s received from the twelve, so also you. As the Twelve gave to those groups, so also me.
Now, for you, for me, for all of us who are the Lord’s sheep we tend to be like that crowd, like the twelve. We’re doubtful of what the Lord’s going to do. We act like we’ve got no shepherd at all. That we’re left on our own! So we scurry about, worrying about what’s going to happen. As if He’s not going to take care of us. Our future’s in doubt because of the weather, what’s happening around the world, in our nation. Maybe y’all were worried about how long you’d be without a pastor. It doesn’t matter what it is. We often feel deserted.
But the Lord doesn’t desert us. Doesn’t leave us in the desert. He could do that, and He’d be justified in doing so. But He doesn’t say, “What’s the matter with you?” Instead, He has compassion. He saves sheep who love to wander. He saves doubting sheep, worried sheep. He saves the sheep who act like they’ve no shepherd in the world. “I Am the Good Shepherd,” He says, “And I lay down my life for the sheep.” His heart is wrenched, pierced, as His hands and feet on the cross, and after laying it down He took it up again. Now Jesus gives you more than you need. He does it like He did in Galilee: through His called and sent one.
He gives you His Word, His teaching. Given from lectern, from pulpit. He gives you spiritual food, spiritual bread: His body and His blood distributed to you from the hands of His called and sent one. Always more gifts. Always more with the Lord. Gifts upon gifts. Twelve baskets full! Baptism, Absolution! Forgiveness upon forgiveness, compassion upon compassion. What joy! Endless joy! Eternal joy!
We receive His many gifts, and then we go about our day free and satisfied. But think of it. 5,000+ taught, fed and nourished. From Jesus, through the Twelve, to the people. Think of it! You: taught, fed, and nourished. From Jesus, through me, to you. Week in, week out, for a lifetime. Jesus has compassion on you and me! You see it today; you hear it. I see it; I hear it. So many Gifts for this life. Eternal joy! Eternal life! Compassion both now and for the life to come.
INI + AMEN.