Bring It To Jesus
Sermon 1709 Matthew 14.13-21 August 16, 2020
Of late we have seen what happens when plans aren’t carefully thought through. It is hardly a failing of 21st century America. Shortages in supply chains and short-sightedness in chains of command were so rampant in colonial America, Ben Franklin included this in his 1758 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac.
"For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail."
Our Lord wants nothing, and, as Psalm 23 says, with the Lord as our Shepherd, we shall not want.
Bring It To Jesus
Jesus has thought through everything.
At this stage in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is at the height of his popularity. It’s like General Lee marching on Gettysburg or Napoleon invading Russia. No, I don’t mention those two historical figures because I root for the underdog (or the villain depending on your point of view). Yes, I make those comparisons because a swift reversal is going to follow. But that’s a story for another day.
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick (13-14).”
What had happened was that wicked King Herod had killed John the Baptist. But that’s another story for another day. In the eyes of the people and the godless rulers, Jesus and John had been closely united. It made sense for Jesus to cross the border into territory not under Herod’s jurisdiction. He knew what to do. He had thought it through. He took immediate action to guard the safety of his disciples and prevent a premature death of his own.
But now, like in everything in life, there was a wrinkle. The crowds of Capernaum had heard Jesus was sailing to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The wind was so weak, the people ran around the lake and got to the other side before Jesus’ boat arrived. It didn’t faze Jesus at all. He gets out of the boat and starts a day of preaching and healing.
“As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’
Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’
‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered (15-17).’”
In typical fashion, now more problems arise. There are a lot of people. It is getting late. They are getting hungry. There are no fast food options around in this isolated setting. The ill-conceived solution the disciples come up with is no solution at all. The only thing going for it? It makes the disciples seem they are not to blame. To make matters worse, Jesus insists on being the host. No, he had not invited this crowd into the desert. But he had busied himself all day tending to them. He cared for them—most successful politicians would tell you that’s the problem. You can’t care too much. Jesus thought it was on him to take care of them.
Now comes the last piece of bad news. “We only have here five loaves of bread and two fish.” This is going to be a train wreck of epic proportions.
You and I are in a similar train wreck getting worse. Nothing seems to be working. Today’s solutions give way to tomorrow’s complications. Not one aspect of life is unaffected. We have personal inconveniences—scratchy masks and postponed travel. We have economic hardships—curtailed hours, persistent delays with the unemployment office, layoffs. We have psychological stress—the uncertainty regarding our financial futures, shifting medical guidance. We have physical threats—while the Harley boys at Sturgis, South Dakota last week seemed to act as if they were immune to the COVID-19 virus, we know anyone who is human, white or black or brown or yellow, male or female, young or old, rich or poor, is not immune. It can kill anyone. We have societal stress. Politicians on both sides comfort us with the vision that one day, life will go on. But not one of them can guarantee us that our life personally will go on.
For the want of a nail the kingdom was lost. Has anybody thought through anything?
Bring it to Jesus. Jesus has thought through everything.
Just as Jesus was not at a loss at every step of our text for today, Jesus is not at a loss at every step of this pandemic. He knows why this is happening. Adam and Eve disobeyed in the Garden of Eden. They didn’t believe him when he told them, “The day you eat of it you will surely die.” Through one man’s sin death came into the world.
Jesus has thought through everything. He was not at a loss in the Garden of Eden. He promised Adam and Eve, he promised the entire human race, the answer to sin. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel (Genesis 3.15).” Jesus was that great hero, born of a woman, who would destroy the devil’s power and free us from sin and everlasting death.
Jesus has thought through everything. “As long as earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease (Genesis 9.22).” He will provide crops for man and beast. He will open his hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. He will get us through. He will get us to heaven.
Ours is not a Lord who is ever caught flat-footed. Jesus has thought through everything. Bring it to Jesus.
So, we’ve got a setting sun, a lot of hungry people, some faint-hearted disciples looking over their shoulders and a status report of five loaves of bread and two fish.
“‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children (18-21).”
Bring it to Jesus. Trust him.
What could the disciples say? Their own selfish plan had been shot down. Their objection to the ridiculous situation had been overridden. It was all on Jesus now. They bring him a little boy’s lunch. Jesus gives thanks, no matter how humble the meal (and a word here—contrary to the Midwest opinion, you pray over a meal that doesn’t have meat also, and it better not be a prayer that the next dinner she serves you is roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy!). Their half-hearted faith didn’t stop Jesus at all. They showed trust in him, at least a little trust, maybe a dollop of trust, a trust, a trust that was perhaps only as big as a seed of mustard.
If you have not guessed it yet, this sermon is a sermon on the First Commandment. You shall have no other gods. Despair can become a god when we give up on the true God. We should fear, love and trust in God above all things. We need no adjectives to describe trust. A big trust will do the trick. A little trust will do the trick. God doesn’t specify how much trust he wants. He wants trust. I always use the story about fixing the electrical outlet in my daughter, Elyse’s, old room when I talk about Baptism, but it will work in this situation, too. I tell my son, Andy, who is home and slouching on the sofa and fiddling with his phone, to throw the B fuse to turn off the power upstairs. I’m going to fix that electrical outlet because I think the workers back in 1989 were too busy to tighten down every electrical screw. Meanwhile, digging around in my little Red Flyer wagon, all I can find is a two foot long construction screw driver and a tiny, little screw driver Karen used to use to tighten eyeglasses before we found a good friend who also happened to be a good eye doctor. Off I go. And Andy has forgotten what I have said (“Better pull B or I will beat your….”) and throws A. It doesn’t matter if I use that “little trust” screw driver or that “great trust” screwdriver. I am going to be electrocuted because there’s power still going through that circuit.
The power of God is working through Jesus’ words. “Bring them to me.” They do. Then the fireworks start. He breaks that bread and busts apart that fish as he puts it into the baskets each disciple is holding. As they serve the crowd—5000 people, not counting the women and children, the bread never gives out. The fish keep multiplying. Everyone has no, not enough to eat, all they want to eat! They are satisfied. And after it is all over, the disciples pick up the leftovers. From those five loaves of bread and two fish there are twelve baskets full of leftovers. By his power as the Son of God, Jesus had miraculously multiplied that food.
Bring it to Jesus.
Can’t you just picture the look in Jesus’ eyes? Determination. Steely resolve. Death and the devil himself would have to look away, unmanned by that gaze. He knows what he is going to do. Nothing will stop him.
Bring it to Jesus. I know you are weary. I know you are tired. I know you are scared. I am, too. But Jesus is looking at us and telling us to bring it to him. Bring him our cares. Bring him out worries. Bring him, bring him all the stresses and that nameless dread we can’t put our finger on but that dread which is moving us to just want to shut down and quit. Bring it to Jesus.
Don’t listen to voices that say he is busy or we don’t deserve it. Don’t listen to voices that try to tell us “where you were when things were good?” Bring them to me, Jesus says. There is no time limit. Especially now, in the day of trouble, call out to him for help and he will deliver. He delights in those who trust him. He delights in showing his power to those who flee to him. It is no bother. It is not a chore. Not to him.
No, I’m not going to pretend that God is waiting for us to bring it to him. He will work his will with or without us. He gave an unbelieving king of Judah the ultimate guarantee of his survival—the Savior would come from his family tree—but the king refused to believe it. That didn’t stop God. You and I benefited from that Savior, the son of David, conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary. Wicked King Ahaz didn’t benefit. We did benefit.
Benefit now as God works his will of deliverance and rescue through you and to you, through me and to me. I am sure there have been other perilous, personal situations—surgery, combat, accidents—but there has never been such a situation that threatens to swallow whole nations, peoples and cultures. Bring it to Jesus. If he fed over five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish, he knows how to starve a virus of its victims.
Bring It To Jesus
Jesus has thought through everything.
We can have a spirit, not of desperate fearlessness, but of faithfulness rooted in the words and eternal promises of our Lord. His kingdom will not be lost for the want of a nail. And neither will you.