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Pentecost 9, 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 2, 2020
Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

 

Think about a time you felt overwhelmed when you face a task that just seems so big…so intimidating.  Pretty sure this is the feeling a child gets when he is told he needs to clean his room. Moving does it for me.  Moving from one house to another gives me that feeling of being overwhelmed.  There was a time that Jeannette and I were moving about every two years or so and it is just overwhelming to think about getting everything packed up again and into the truck and then unloaded on the other end.  Facing a move I felt overcome by everything that has to be done.  But, as with many of life’s overwhelming tasks, it gets accomplished one step at a time.  Although, I have to say that after all the moving before coming to Hamilton, it has been nice to stay put here for 19 years, although now we help the kids move.

There is the feeling of being overwhelmed, but then there is the feeling of facing the impossible.  Not just a big, overwhelming task that can be overcome, but the impossible. That’s where Jesus has the disciples in our Gospel reading today in six impossible words.  Matthew 14:16 (ESV) 16 …you give them something to eat.”[1]

These words are not necessarily impossible depending on the context.  If you are sitting with two siblings and you have a whole pizza and they have none and they are complaining that they are hungry mom may say, “You give them something to eat,” and it’s no big deal.  You shouldn’t eat the whole pizza anyway.  But the disciples are surrounded by thousands of hungry people and the twelve disciples have only five loaves of bread and two fish. That’s not even enough for themselves. Matthew 14:16 (ESV) 16 …you give them something to eat.”[2] It’s impossible.  It can’t be done.  What are they supposed to do?  Imagine yourself standing there with the disciples looking out at a sea of thousands and thousands of faces and knowing that you are supposed to feed them.  It is hopeless; it is impossible.

And this is the culmination of a very bad time for the disciples.  The voice of one calling in the desert has been silenced.  John the Baptist, the prophet who heralded Jesus’ arrival, prepared the way for Him, and baptized Him in the Jordan River, is beheaded by Herod Antipas because of a drunken promise made at a party.  Not only was John killed, but his head was brought to the party on a platter in a final humiliation.  It has been a bad time for Jesus and His disciples.

They try to take a break.  They go by boat to a desolate place to grieve in peace but the crowds follow them and get to the place ahead of them.  Instead of getting angry, Matthew 14:14 (ESV) [Jesus] had compassion on them and healed their sick.[3]

It has been a terribly long day and Jesus and the disciples still have not gotten a chance to grieve.  The disciples are ready to send the people away and be done, but Jesus gives them the impossible task of feeding all these thousands of people.  I’ve got to imagine that the disciples just want to quit.  They must just want to ignore the hungry crowd and get back in the boat and sail away because they face an impossible task. They cannot do it.  But Jesus can.  And Jesus has compassion on the people.  He has already healed the sick, now he is going to feed all of them.  Jesus can heal the sick and feed the hungry with just His words. He can do it because Jesus is not just a teacher or a prophet.  Jesus is God. Jesus is God in flesh.

You are a sinner and you cannot change that.  As hard as you try you cannot stop sinning.  All you have to do is to perfectly love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s all.  But you cannot do it.  It is impossible.  You cannot stop being a sinner.

Jesus tells the disciples to bring Him the five loaves and two fish.  He orders all the people to sit down on the grass and then looks up to heaven and blesses the food.  He breaks the loaves and gives them to the disciples and the disciples start handing out the food and they keep handing out the food.  They hand out bread and fish to all of the thousands of people.  How long would it take for twelve people to distribute food to 5,000 plus people?  The disciples do not run out of bread and fish until everyone has eaten and is satisfied.  Jesus has done the impossible through the disciples, and to top it off they collect twelve baskets full of leftovers.  With the disciples facing the impossible, Jesus, the Son of God, God in flesh, in His compassion, provides.  And He provides in abundance.

In life you will face many overwhelming things.  This whole pandemic and its effects are pretty overwhelming and looking at how to reopen schools is overwhelming.  Raising children is overwhelming.  You face many overwhelming things, but there is one thing you face that is impossible. You are a sinner and the wages of sin is death; eternal death in Hell.  You are a sinner and you cannot change that.  As hard as you try you cannot stop sinning.  All you have to do is to perfectly love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s all.  But you cannot do it.  It is impossible.  You cannot stop being a sinner.

Jesus does the impossible.  Jesus has compassion on you.  He loves you, and with His words, “I forgive you all your sins,” He declares you to be sinless.  He pours out forgiveness upon you in abundance with His Word–with the waters of Holy Baptism–with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  He forgives you to overflowing.  Jesus’ pours our His love and forgiveness on you and fills you.  He fills your cup to the brim and then His love and forgiveness overflow to those around you in your love and forgiveness of others.

In His miracles, in His life, His death and His resurrection, Jesus shows that He is the Son of God; God in flesh.  As John the Baptist declared, Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus’ sacrifice on the altar of the cross is enough to pay for all your sins.  His suffering and death is credited to you.  His resurrection is your resurrection as you are born again of water and spirit and you will be raised from the dead on the last day.

In this life you will be assaulted by temptation and sin and by the devil himself trying to convince you that you must do it on your own, all the time knowing that you cannot.  He will tempt you to despair.  He will tempt you to give up when you face difficulties.  But you are not alone.  You have the armor of God.  You are covered by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus has done the impossible.  He declared you to be righteous, innocent and blessed and if Jesus says it, it is true, because Jesus is the truth.

There are many things in life that are overwhelming.  And as we starkly learn from the death of John the Baptist, being a Christian is no guarantee of an easy life.  Jesus never promises to make this life easy, but He does promise to be with you; to never leave you or forsake you.  He promises you eternal life with Him.  Jesus is God. Jesus does the impossible.  From nothing He speaks the world into existence. He speaks water into wine.  He speaks sight to the blind.  He speaks life to the dead.  He speaks five loaves and two fish into enough to feed thousands. He speaks you from darkness to light; from sinner to sinless saint in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus does the impossible.  Amen.

 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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