Seventh Sunday after Trinity

Readings: Genesis 2:7-17 | Romans 6:19-23 | Mark 8:1-9

Text: Mark 8:1-9

The Feeding of the 5,000 usually gets all the attention.  It’s recorded in all four Gospels.  It’s a spectacular miracle, feeding over 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish.  John’s account even ties it to the Lord’s Supper. But why is there also the feeding of the 4,000? 

Since Jesus has already fed 5,000, why is a lesser miracle necessary?

  • Was it to give another sign from heaven of who Jesus is? Immediately after this, the Pharisees are demanding such a sign, but the request doesn’t come from faith. There are plenty of signs that emphatically prove Jesus is the Messiah and Savior. (Matthew 12:1-42)
  • Was it just to “wow” the disciples and crowds with overwhelming numbers? Headlines are aimed to wow people with numbers: “A single Powerball ticket sold in Los Angeles matched all 6 numbers for the $1.08 billion jackpot.” (CNN) “New York City to pay $13M to Black Lives Matter protesters in historic class action.” (Syracuse NY). Magnitude speaks to people, but that’s not why Jesus feeds these 4,000.

He feeds them because they were people in need.  It’s because they’re hungry and Jesus has compassion on them and the ability to help them! He doesn’t close His heart against them and let them “faint on the way.”

And He is a God who has compassion in an amazing way: He shares our flesh.

Jesus is greater than us because He is God.  Our ability to help has limits: there’s only so much we can hand out, only so much in the charity fund at church. It’s frustrating, and crippling!

But as God, Jesus doesn’t just have head knowledge of hunger, thirst, weariness, or pain. He doesn’t impassively read the newspaper and click his tongue at the problem.  He experiences those very things in His own person as well.  “After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.”  In Gethsemane, “being in a great agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”  As He hung on the cross close to the end, He said, “I thirst”[1] 

The Apostle puts it, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”[2] God knows our weakness in His very Flesh and for that He has compassion on us.

Martin Luther’s counsel to us is: “It is also useful that we form the habit of daily commending ourselves to God, with soul and body, wife, children, servants, and all that we have, against every need that may arise. So also the blessing and thanksgiving at meals and other prayers, morning and evening, have begun and remained in use.” Large Catechism, 2nd Commandment 73

This brings up a question for us as Christians today: Why do we pray for the things that we need?  It’s because God sympathizes with our weakness and neediness. (He doesn’t sympathize with our sins, but He atones for them).  And we go to Him because only He can deliver us. Truth be told, we daily find ourselves in a overwhelming situations, more than we can handle or answer. Our own futures are unknown, the stability of the economy unknown, our own safety is also unknown (if we’re honest). So, where can we truly look for confidence and peace? Nowhere, but the Lord!

Yet, Jesus is a God who desires more than to fill our bellies and dole out goodies.  He desires us to know Him.  That’s why the unbelief of the disciples is especially poignant.  Jesus has compassion on the crowd, but only in a way that God can do.  He wants the disciples and us to see that.

We struggle in our own unbelief of this truth.  Later in the Sermon on the Mount (which we heard the first part of last week), Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear…but we do!  He tells us not to fear those who can kill the body but afterward can do nothing more, but we do fear them (Matt. 10:28).  He tells us that if we had faith like a grain of mustard seed, we could command mountains to move,[3] but our faith is weak.  Therefore, we cry out, “I believe, help my unbelief!”[4] and He gladly answers our prayer.

That way, when we are in need, what choice do we have but to call upon our God and Savior who is united in one-flesh with us? There is no want or pain which your Lord doesn’t empathize with.

  • Are you are tortured in your flesh with temptation?
  • Are you are in agony from a body broken by disease—arthritis, diabetes, or COPD?
  • Are you hurt for lack of work and poverty?
  • Jesus is the One who can truly say, “I know your pain.” He is your God and Savior!

Whatever the need, this miracle shows us that He is ready and willing to help with all His divine power. If you are in need, look to Jesus.  He is your God and Savior for all things from daily necessities to freedom from the grave.

If you have prayed again and again for relief, wait on Him.  He knows what He is doing.  “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”[5]This He truly does. Whatever need you are in, look to Him and His compassion will be near to you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

[1] Matthew 4:2; Luke 22:44; John 19:28;

[2] Hebrews 4:15

[3] Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:4-5; Matthew 17:19-21

[4] Mark 9:24

[5] Romans 8:32

Seventh Sunday after Trinity

Readings: Genesis 2:7-17 | Romans 6:19-23 | Mark 8:1-9

Text: Mark 8:1-6

What do you think about food?  You like it?  I do, too.  I’m sure we could share some enthusiastic stories about our favorite meals.

What would you do to get it?  When we’re children, it’s given to us.  But when we get older and move out of the nest, suddenly food means work.  Either you have to work more and afford the restaurant bill or the groceries and time to make food yourself.  On a rare occasion, you may be invited to something where they just feed you for being there.

A less comfortable question, How long could you go without it? and What would happen to you if you had to go without it?  These are unpleasant things to consider, and it’s this situation that the crowd in the Gospel finds themselves.  Jesus gathers a crowd around Himself, into a wilderness place, knowing full well that they have nothing to eat, not just for several hours but “now three days.” 

It’s in this privation that our Lord is unveiling just who He is and what kind of God and Savior He is.  Though their hungering and isolation, God is showing that


  1. God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we beseech our Father, “give us this day our daily bread,” which seems like a very mundane request.  Didn’t Jesus also teach, “your heavenly Father knows you need all these.” (Matt. 6:32)  Of course He knows it.  The Old Testament lesson (Genesis 2:7-17) brings us back to our origin and gives us insight about why we desire and need food: God made this world, and us in it.  He created us to be dependent on Him.

Do you know what is most successful at attracting people to an event? Food.  That’s because even in our sinful state, all people recognize that food is necessary and most of the time, eating is enjoyable.  But because of what happened in Genesis 3, we don’t recognize that this desire is the result of our created nature.  Yet all people, from the moment they are born, know the urge.

Lutherans, after the humor of Garrison Keillor, are teased for always having food close at hand.  Rightly understood, good food can be enjoyed with thanksgiving to God (as I hope we will do after service today).  But when that is taken away, what happens?  Our sinful nature lashes out in complaint, forgetting all ways God has supported us undeservedly these many years.

Similarly, because Martin Luther lived in a time of much beer, many followers of his theology also enjoy what some affectionately call “cold Lutheran beverages.”  But like the full belly resulting from fellowship meals, we are prone to gluttonously crave the enjoyment of the gift and despise the giver of that gift. 

  1. But we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

So, what is Jesus up to with this feeding miracle?  The answer to that is found in looking back through the last couple chapters before this in Mark, beginning with the Feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6.  In a string of encounters, each of them contribute to the understanding of just who Jesus is, so that we creatures don’t worship gifts apart from the Giver of them.

In the feeding of the 5,000, in a desolate place, Jesus provides food for a great crowd, thus showing Himself as the originator of divine Providence.  When Jesus walks on the water, He shows His disciples that He is the Creator Himself, come with human feet.  Across the lake in Gennesaret, the incarnate Creator visits man under the shadow of death and rolls back for a time the curse of death.

When He debates with the Pharisees He begins to take up the topic of the body, food, and worship of the one, true God.  Here, He shows them that worship does not happen through the food, but by a heart cleansed from the true defilement of hardness and sin. 

The reverse of hardness of heart is displayed in the Syrophoenician woman, an alien to Israel, but who acknowledges her unworthiness and faith in Jesus, whereby Jesus commands the unclean spirit and her daughter is freed of the devil’s tyranny.

That brings one to this text.  Again a crowd, again no food in a desolate place.  But, the Lord of creation is present, and it says He is moved with compassion for this mass of trembling sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.  This same God of Providence, the Lord of all Creation, who “took our illnesses and bore our diseases” (Matt. 8:17, Isa. 53:4), who desires to rescue all mankind from sin, death, and the devil—has come to this crowd.   Even though sin may have blinded many of them to what was happening in their midst, we have been given the Holy Spirit to see and worship Jesus for who He is for us.

This portion of the Holy Gospel is catechesis meant to bring us back to the Garden.  There, Adam and his wife were provided for so richly that they truly had “not a care in the world.”  So, for us who are to be heirs of the world to come, whom God has “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from our fathers” (1 Pet. 1:18), this is how He sanctifies and restores us to a right knowledge of us as creatures, He as our Creator.  Who is the one who is the giver of food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all we have?  And if we recognize Him for that—and that none of us deserve even one crumb because of our disobedience—then how much we ought to thank and praise Him for every earthly gift!

  1. Even more needed than the things for this body and life, are the things for our soul.

The lesson of the Feeding miracles is not merely that Jesus is a wonderworker or a divine vending machine.  It’s meant to awaken our faith that God cares for our souls through our bodies.  By faith, we understand that every piece of “daily bread” which He provides is a reason to worship and adore Him for His goodness and faithful care.  The list of things meant by daily bread in the Catechism—”food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors”—are an intentional exercise in seeing our God compassion for us in our bodily life.  By faith, we see ourselves as more than material, more than just sentient hunks of flesh.  We are creatures of God—and beloved creatures at that!

This little word, “compassion,” in the Gospel speaks to just what an intimate act the incarnation.  As I’ve mentioned before, it means to have your guts wrenched.  It’s a word which doesn’t appear anywhere in the Greek Old Testament,[1] because something monumental happened—“the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” (John 1:14)  The Creator took on our created nature.  He is intimately involved, intimately invested in our existence.  This cannot be said of any other creature in the universe! (This is how I respond to questions about intelligent life on other planets. If there is, they aren’t as important to God as mankind, nor is their redemption for them.)

And you can take this compassion to its fullest, even to the cross: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)  For these ungrateful, slow of heart, rebels, God gave His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Not perish in the sense of starvation, but in the true worst fate: being cut off from God eternally.

Just as God’s mercy is enacted bodily in His Son, so our spiritual life is lived out in the body.  Your faith and your creaturely life are bound up together.  With your ears, you hear the Word of God and the Holy Spirit creates and renews faith.  With your mouth, you pray and sing and proclaim the saving work of God to others.  With your possessions and income, you support the ministry of the Gospel and show mercy to those in need.  And, contrary to the unbelieving flesh, we see that the whole foundation of our lives is not the created stuff we can measure and handle; it is in the Creator who declares to us, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3)  Whenever we start believing this lie, our Father is gracious to correct us, even making us hunger if necessary, that we might repent and learn this truth once more.

So finally, I’d like to ask the questions I did at the beginning, but not about food.  I want to ask them about the Word of God:

What do you think about the Word of God?  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:1)  God has given you a spirit to delight in God’s Word, to crave it, to be nourished by it as true satisfaction.

What would you do to get it?  If you knew of a place where the Word of God was being proclaimed, would you come out in droves as the crowd did to listen to Jesus?  How far would you drive in order to have this imperishable portion for yourself and your family? Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.” (Isa. 55:2-3a)

And now, How long could you go without God’s Word?  Here, this calls for somber self-reflection.  If you have ever deprived yourself of God’s Word, you’re playing with a deadly kind of anorexia.  There is great danger in “learning to do without” when it comes to the Word of God.  Man does not live without every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  Yet away from the Word, your dull senses, the world, and the devil are overjoyed to tell you that you actually live by the things of this life.  But He who purchased and won you knows better, and regenerates you with this kind of appetite: As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1-2)

So now come, creatures of the living God, redeemed and forgiven by the precious blood of Christ, washed and renewed each day by the Holy Spirit, and taste and see that the Lord is good, and He is here for you both in body and soul.  In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

[1] 2 Macc. 6:8 uses the pagan sacrificial sense of the word: “Moreover there went out a decree to the neighbour cities of the heathen, by the suggestion of Ptolemee, against the Jews, that they should observe the same fashions, and be partakers of their sacrifices”

Seventh Sunday after Trinity(Mark 8:1-9)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR

Seventh Sunday after Trinity + August 4, 2019

Text: Mark 8:1-9

Recently in the news, there has been a story about a USDA rule change that would render 3.1 million people ineligible for food stamp benefits.  Of course, an outcry ensues, because food is important for people to have.  Every sane human being would agree that it’s vital to have enough to eat.  In fact, as those who know the Lord, we know a bit more about this.  Hunger is part of the curse of sin on this creation—“cursed is the ground because of you…by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

It’s also true that hunger and lacking in the things needed for life is unpleasant, and we try hard to avoid it.  If given the choice, we’d much rather have our choice of what and how much we could have, than to be restricted.  But that’s not always possible because of finite resources.

People are right to be concerned with making sure everyone has enough to eat, especially children who rely on adults to provide for them.  Speaking of fathers and children, hunger is important to God as well:

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

It’s true. Hunger is a problem, but the curse of sin did more than make food harder to come by.  It changed the way we think about food—and really all the things we need.  Bigger than the problem of world hunger is the problem of covetousness in your heart and mine.

Covetousness looks at what we have and doesn’t think it’s enough.  It wants to reach wide and gather as much as it can and still have enough for what we fearfully assume the future will bring.  Covetousness looks at the things we do have and says they’re not good enough and not the “right” things.  We look at our car and find all of its flaws, our spouse and see nothing but negative, one crack in the screen and suddenly we need to have a new cell phone.  In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to “Put to death what is earth in you” and two of the examples he mentions are “evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry” (3:5)  Those evil desires (evil lusts) combined with turning our eyes to things we aren’t given, constitute idolatry.  Why?  Because it’s a denial of who the true God is and what He is always doing.  Whenever you blame God for not giving enough or taking away what you have, you’ve set up in incompetent fool for a god who wishes you evil.

The Feeding of the Four Thousand shows us that scarcity is not a problem for God—never has been and never will be.  He is the God who created out of nothing, so why are we such materialist fools to think our lives are limited to what we see at this very moment?  No, it’s not scarcity that’s the problem; it’s our weak faith in Him and contentment with what He actually has provided each of us.

It says in the Explanation to the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.”  Daily bread means a whole lot more than just flour, water, oil, sugar, and yeast; it “includes everything needed for this body and life.”[1]  The lack is less in the daily bread, than in the faith and thankfulness. 

This is one of our biggest weaknesses as people, trusting like the birds of the air or the lilies of the field that God really is a faithful provider.  It’s more than we can comprehend that God is able and willing to provide for all of His creation. The Lord teaches man in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  And, yes, this applies to our daily bread, too.  While we’re busy fretting about our lives by the smallness of our vision and vastness of the future, God is at work from eternity.  Understanding has its part in planning that belongs to us, but faith leans on God to do the actual provision. 

In Psalm 104, after listing a series of activities God actively does to care for His creation, the psalmist summarizes: “These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” (Psalm 104:27-28) God even provides for those whose hearts are far from Him, because He still has a Fatherly goodness and mercy toward them.  But for us who do believe, it’s still a lifelong battle of putting to death what is earthly and letting the Spirit renew our hearts.

The fear of not having enough is serious.  When your job or your living situation are on the rocks and the future of your family is in limbo, that anxiety can do some real harm.  If you’re one of those people whose Oregon Trail benefits are in question, you’re wondering how you’ll meet your needs on an even thinner shoestring.  And none of us is in a place to judge another for their lack of faith, because we all struggle with doubt, especially if it was happening to us.

Repent, all of us, before God gives us a scarcity both of daily bread and of His mercy.  Open your eyes and take a fresh look at what you do have, and if there is scarcity, learn how to make faithful priorities.  God will provide what we need for this body and life.  Take that as a constant, because it is His solid promise.  Jesus was not commanding us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” in vain.  But then pray God for a trusting and thankful heart, that doesn’t measure His infinite power by finite quantities and our own inability to foretell

the future.

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people.

As much as God is gracious to provide for our bodily needs, His mercy gushes out to care for our souls.  Through Jesus, He has satisfied our true hunger—the one we often don’t identify correctly—the forgiveness of our sins, the need for our hearts to be cleansed and made anew, so that our minds think of Him and what He has provided rightly, and our appetites are content with the daily bread He gives.

But now, come, receive the food and drink which feeds your souls and strengthens your mortal body.  It is Jesus’ own Body and Blood, given and shed for you.  It is no coincidence that the Lord uses bread, the food of the curse made by the sweat of your face.  But this is not your daily bread, liable to lost tomorrow; it is the Bread of Life, and even though a small quantity, its benefits never expire.  Eat and drink, for in this you have life and salvation.

To conclude today, I’d like to end with a sung prayer from hymn 774 – Feed Thy Children, God Most Holy:

Feed Thy children, God most holy;

      Comfort sinners poor and lowly.

O Thou Bread of Life from heaven,

      Bless the food Thou here hast given!

As these gifts the body nourish,

      May our souls in graces flourish

Till with saints in heavenly splendor

      At Thy feast due thanks we render. Amen. (LSB 774)

[1] Explanation to the 1st Article of the Creed

Seventh Sunday after Trinity (Mark 8:1-6)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Seventh Sunday after Trinity + July 15, 2018
Baptism of Jerimiah & Natasha (Jenks) Hodson, Giovanni, Roen, and Noah
Text: Mark 8:1-6
There aren’t many dogs or cats that like to go to the vet. Nevertheless, compassionate owners knows when it’s the needed thing.  So, in compassion, they pack them up against their will and force them to endure it.
There are many things we can learn from the Feeding of the Four Thousand. The most significant thing is simply that the Lord had compassion on the hungry crowd that come out to hear Him, and He acted on it. The Lord also has compassion on us. He has not sent His Son to die in vain, nor merely for our future spiritual good. The Father sent Him to redeem us, to make us His children, now. He who was crucified is risen from the dead for us, in order to be with us, to keep on feeding us. And He is concerned with all of us, our bodies and souls, our spiritual lives and our family lives, our churches and our cities.
He has compassion on us and He acts on it, delivered to us in real time in Word and Sacrament. Often He makes us hungry first.  Being driven to the vet can feel like betrayal. Yet faith learns to see that the Lord acts all times in compassion and mercy, that He works all things work together for good those who are in Christ. (Rom. 8:28)
If we look closely at the scene in the Gospel, we notice that it looks a lot like the Church’s Divine Service. The people have come to hear Jesus, to listen to His Word, to be in His presence. They have been so caught up in this that they have forgotten their physical needs.
The Lord does not exaggerate when He says, “if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way” (v. 3). If He sends them away without feeding them some of them will likely die. They do not have the strength for the walk back to the green places. So also do the disciples answer correctly in their question, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” There is no way to feed that crowd in that desolate place. Even if there were a bakery, a field of wheat, or a Walmart, it wouldn’t be enough to feed this number of people. Go now to Costco or Walmart and buy 1,000 loaves of bread at once. It can’t be done.
The Lord has done this to them on purpose. It is an act of compassion. He exposes their need. They have come to hear Him and that is good. Man lives not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. [Deut. 8:3] They have no bread but they do have what they came for: His Word. They live, but they are dying. They cannot help themselves, but He is their Help and their Food.
In this, they are the perfect congregation, perfect Christians. They come hungry and needy, and they are in just the right place.  They are not chastised for foolishly forgetting a sack lunch. Rather, the Lord responds with compassion. They have come for His Word and He loves them in their need. He does not put them to work, organizing them into committees and work parties, assigning leaders and tasks. He simply has them all sit down. He doesn’t form a bread line. He doesn’t create a buffet. Instead, He treats them as though they’ve come to a restaurant. Though the place is desolate, and they are the poor and weak, they prepare to partake of a banquet as though they were kings and the apostles wait on them.
The Lord takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it, and gives it to them. They eat in luxury, as much as they want, and are satisfied. They receive from His bounty without merit or worthiness, in perfect passivity and trust, likely less than fully aware of the danger they were in and unable at the same time to fully appreciate the gift they were given. So is the life of faith on this side of glory. We are gladly the lapdogs that eat the crumbs that fall from our Master’s table even if He sends us now and then to the vet.
While no man could feed 4,000 people in the desert, the Lord can and the Lord does. So also, what is less obvious, is that no man can feed even one person, even himself, in the city or in fertile land without the Lord. Our parents are right to teach us to pray before eating for this very reason. It’s not commanded by God in the Bible, but it is very good custom. To neglect it is foolish and arrogant. The Lord gave thanks before He fed the crowd. He gave thanks also at the institution of His Supper before He fed them with His Body and Blood. Christians say grace because it is necessary for us to confess and give thanks to God that He provides what we need for this body and life and that without Him we would have nothing.  Indeed, if He were to withdraw His hand for a second, we would be destroyed. This goes right along with our confession that if Jesus had not redeemed us by His sacrifice on the cross none of it would matter, no matter how much or little we had. So, we pause before we eat. We recognize that the food we need, He gives, and we thank Him for it.
There are those who question or even deny the Lord’s miracles. Some have thought that the point of this miracle was sharing. They don’t think the Lord actually multiplied bread and fish. Instead, they say the crowd was inspired by the boy who had five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:9), and they were moved to pull out and share from their own stashes. They had just been selfish and Jesus taught them to be nice.
This is a deadly error because it not only denies the plain words of Scripture, but it also turns the Gospel on its head and makes the Lord’s primary purpose not to redeem us and forgive us, but simply to guide into us into a higher morality. It’s not that the idea of sharing is bad in itself, it is that the Lord’s compassion is greater than that. His compassion doesn’t help those who can help themselves; it helps the helpless. Thus the Lord had them sit down and be waited upon.
Part of the problem is that many don’t believe that the Bible is inspired and inerrant. Some think that Christ is a great man but only a man and not true God.  They don’t think that He has the power to perform miracles and He is nothing more than an inspiring moral teacher like Ghandi. Those errors need to be confronted. The Bible is inspired and without error. Our Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true Man who has redeemed us by His death and resurrection and has ascended, as Man and God, to the right hand of God the Father Almighty. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him.
But, the purpose of the miracles also needs to be clarified. Many Christians have thought that the primary purpose of the miracles was to prove that Jesus is true God. To be sure, the miracles do demonstrate this. He is the Lord of creation who created the world and is still active in it. It bends to His will. But the Lord isn’t trying to prove anything in the feeding of the 4,000. His purpose isn’t even to try and get the crowd to worship Him or be nicer to one another.  Even though those things happen, His purpose is to provide for their need. He has compassion on them and He acts on it.
The miracles do show us His Divinity. Through His Word, the Spirit does cause us to believe and worship, and to live out our faith. There’s no doubt about that. The miracles, however, do more than that. They show us the character of the Christ: “His mercy endures forever,” He has come in peace to restore creation and us to His Father, and He has overcome death and devil for us. The miracles show us the kind of God who lays down His life to make us His: the kind who has compassion on the hungry, the lame, and the downtrodden.
The Lord is compassionate and kind. He looks upon us with His mercy. Our crosses and hardships, our pain and sorrow, are not signs of His wrath and distance. They are His loving chastisements, like a trip to the vet which is always followed by extra attention and treats. Let the injustices you suffer cause you to long for the goodness and mercy of God. Let this world’s pain and disappointments send you running to the God who is constant in His love and keeps His promises. Let this world’s many harsh judgments and the Law’s accusations make you eager—desperate even—for the Good News of God’s forgiveness in Christ and the promise of the Last Day.
May our daily hunger make us long for what the Lord gives, for righteousness, and for what He has promised, life with Him, so that we never become satisfied and want to stay in our cities but are always ready and willing to follow Him in His death even if it is to our death.
All that to say, may we ever be unsatisfied by this life, aware that it is a desolate place, and be ready to give it up. Until the final summons, may we find constant solace and comfort in the Divine Service where Christ Himself is present for us, where He causes us to sit down and be waited upon. Here, He speaks words of chastisement and accusation and instruction. He also speaks the life-giving words of the Gospel, His compassion for us, forgiving us anew and bringing us back to Himself, making us alive with Him. May the crowd which gathers here find nourishment and satisfaction, a green place in the midst of desolation, where the Lord Himself takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it, and give it us as His own risen Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins.  “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endureth forever.” (Psalm 136:1) Amen.