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Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves." But Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me." Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (ESV)



That's Amazing!

Friday of Lent 5

27 March 2015

Martin Luther withholds his amazement at the feeding of the five thousand (Mt 14:13-21). As amazing as it might have been to those who participated in the food provided from meager supplies, the Lord feeds the whole world every day. This is the far greater miracle; but one we take for granted because of its regularity and consistency. The feeding of the five thousand is a sign that the One who feeds the whole world is among His people in the person of Jesus and He has the power to feed us on a far greater bread, as He says in John, 'The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh' (Jn 6:51). He who can feed five thousand people on "nothing," can certainly feed the world everyday with the bread of this world, coming, as it does, from the created fertility of the world made by Him. Not only this, but a world starving for a lack of spiritual food He is also able to feed upon His flesh, which is true bread indeed. All the world can feed on Christ and from Him be nourished unto life and kept from starving in the poverty of its depravity.


Christ gave sight to the man born blind commanding him to wash in the Pool of Siloam (Jn 9:11). But this is small indeed for those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death and who have been blinded in their trespasses and sins to whom Jesus gives sight (2Co 4:4). Millions have been rescued from blindness unto death to be brought into the marvelous light of Jesus Christ. As a parish pastor, I sometimes have the privilege of watching eyes that were darkened by unbelief opened to the glorious riches of the righteousness of Jesus Christ and in that moment of seeing everything is made light (Mt 6:22).


Christ gave life to Lazarus by calling him from the stinking tomb into which he had been laid. He was rescued from his grave clothes upon which hung the odor of death. The power of the word of God on the lips of Christ the Lord shattered death's hold upon this one. Could there have been envious families in Bethany? Weren't there townspeople whose loved ones also were moldering in the graves there? Why hadn't Jesus rescued their loved ones as he had Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha? But such envy was unnecessary. For the Lord who was himself put to death and placed in a tomb also came forth with a shout of triumph on Easter Sunday. He will cry that triumph for all who have believed in him so that they too will be called from their graves on the last day to be united with Christ in body and soul. Bethany's graveyard will be emptied at the right time as they will be everywhere at once. Lazarus is only the first among many.


Christ accomplishes far greater things today than ever he did during His earthly life, because He who died uses the power of His indestructible life to bring sight to the blind, food to the starving, and life to the dead. That is the power of the cross, in which the church glories. Now, that's amazing!


Cyril of Jerusalem


"Every deed of Christ is a cause for glorying to the catholic church, but her greatest of all glorying is in the cross. Knowing this, Paul says, 'Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Gal 6:14). For wondrous indeed it was, that one who was blind from his birth should receive sight in Siloam (Jn 9); but what is this compared with a world of blind people? It was a great thing for Lazarus to rise again on the fourth day, and surpassing nature (Jn 11); but the grace extended to Lazarus alone, and what was it compared with the dead in sins throughout the world?  It was marvelous that five loaves should gush food for five thousand (Mt 14:20-21); but what is that to those who are famishing in ignorance throughout the world? It was amazing that she who had been bound by Satan eighteen years should have been loosed by Satan after eighteen years (Lk 13:10-17). Yet what is this to us, who were held fast in the chains of our sins? But the glory of the cross led those who were blind through ignorance into light, loosed all who were held fast by sin, and ransomed the whole world of mankind." 


Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 8.1



Jesus Christ, crucified Lord, we who were held fast in the chains of our sins have been freed by the glory of Your cross. You led those who were blind through ignorance into light through Your Word. You loosed all who were held fast by sin, and by your death ransomed the whole world. Send your messengers during holy week to confirm our freedom from sin, to preach the blind into sight, and deliver the message of our ransom to us. Amen.


For Riley Toenges, to whom the Lord will give the new birth in the waters of baptism on Palm Sunday, that he might always cry, "Hail, Hossana!" as a child of God


For those who belong to Christ, that they might watch with him during Holy Week but one little hour, that they might be captured by the mystery of our salvation


For pastors, musicians, and other church leaders, that they would be strengthened for the days of Holy Week to lead God's people from the upper room to the empty tomb

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057