Proper 13 (Wednesday 2023)
The Christian Trust God to Provide
The hardest times to trust in God are the times we need to trust him most. It's easy to trust God when your job is great; your health is fine; your relationships are strong. It's easy to trust God when the sun is shining in your life. But what happens when your life is suddenly overshadowed by dark days?
“When Jesus heard what had happened..." The sentence that introduces the Gospel for today establishes the context for the appointed readings. What had happened was the death of His cousin and friend, John the Baptizer. The faithful preacher of repentance had run afoul of local government and had been imprisoned. Then, the man whom Jesus said was the greatest man ever born had his head cut off at the whim of a dancing teenage girl. His head was carried on a platter as a party trick.
“When Jesus heard what had happened...." What was going through his heart and the hearts of his disciples? Some of them had been disciples of John before following Jesus. All of them knew the respect Jesus had for this man. Can you imagine the questions they asked in their minds if not with their mouths? “If Jesus is God, then why would he let John be murdered? If John is murdered like that, was he really God's prophet? If he's not God's prophet, is Jesus not who he says he is?” So Jesus withdrew and took his disciples away to a solitary place.
They needed time with their teacher. They needed to pray to their Father. They needed to understand that in this deep tragedy, God would yet be glorified. They needed to understand that even in the hardest of times, God would provide for his people.
Do we Christians appreciate Christ Jesus as we should? Do we fail to come to Him expecting Him to do great things? Or, do we live our everyday life in the full knowledge that God will care for our every need, just as He cares for the needs of the birds of the air?
The last several weeks we have been examining Jesus’ answer to, “What is a Christian.” This week, week number six, is probably the one area where 21st Century Christians struggle the most — “The Christian Trusts God to Provide!”
The Christian trust God to provide because we are chosen, predestined, adopted as sons of God!
Therefore, when a situation arises we can be confident that God will provide, because He knows our need and will provide for our needs.
He Knows Your Needs
He Knows Your Needs
Matthew 6:8 “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
As in the case of today’s gospel reading — “When Jesus heard what had happened...” — this moves Him to have compassion. This being the case, why do we need to pray?
We pray because He tells us to pray: 1 Thess 5:17 “pray without ceasing,” This means we should always be praying, and for a whole laundry list of things: Health, Finances, Children, Spouse, Food, Shelter, etc.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
James 4:2–4 (EHV) You do not have because you do not ask. You ask, and yet do not receive, because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on what gives you pleasure. . . . So whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
You see, the devil does not want us to ask, or pray for anything. This is so, because he knows that God will respond. Instead, the devil tempts us to look to other solutions to our needs.
Surgery? — Illustration: Peaches and her heart.
Though saddened by John the Baptist's death and seeking solitude, Jesus had compassion on the crowds that followed him and healed their sick. Then he turned to the training of his disciples. “Give them something to eat,” he told them (Mark 6:37). The disciples, however, saw all the problems and none of the possibilities. They could estimate how many months' wages it would cost; they could tally the meager resources on hand. Their math didn't fail them, but their faith did. They did not understand what kind of Lord they had in Jesus. Jesus taught them that a Christian trusts in God to provide when he said, "Bring them here to me. They should have done so immediately; it should be our first response to want or crisis. Bring it to Jesus. And look how he answered! So much food that thousands were fed and there were bushels left over.
He Provides for Your Needs
He Provides for Your Needs
When our circumstances make us doubt whether God still cares for us, we need to remember some important facts. Paul tells us to consider the spiritual blessings that God has given to us. We were chosen, predestined, adopted as sons and heirs (Second Reading). If we look at the spiritual blessings God provides to us, how could we doubt he will provide for us physically? This is Paul's point in the Gospel Acclamation: Will he not also graciously give us all things?
The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. It is the miracle that Jesus performed to answer his disciples' doubts about trusting God in times of deep adversity. The miracle proclaimed the nature of God's provision. There is no place so remote, no hour too late, no lunch too small, no crowd too big for God to make your cup overflow.
Why did Jesus make extra? First, because the Messiah's is not a kingdom of just enough but one where our cup runs over. Second, it wasn't that Jesus overestimated in his multiplication or underestimated the crowd's consumption. He didn't allow a ten percent overage to account for breakage and spoilage. There were exactly 12 baskets of leftovers, because this miracle was meant for the disciples to take to heart the truth that God provides regardless of our circumstances. Each disciple left that place carrying a personal basketful of proof.