The words of today’s Collect are stunning. “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul.” One sentence in a prayer accurately describes our relationship with God. One sentence in a prayer accurately summarizes today’s Gospel.
When our feet hit the floor every morning, we don’t usually think that our heavenly Father’s mercies will happen again today. It’s a given. It’s an assumption. God is going to be kind to me today by providing all my needs of body and soul. We don’t even stop to thank Him for His bountiful goodness. When we eat food, we don’t make time to ask God’s blessing over the food we eat. When we finish eating, we don’t return thanks to God for His merciful provision. Every breath, every step, every blink of an eye is a blessing from God. Yet we don’t care. We’ve come to expect it from the God Whom we treat like a servant rather than our merciful Master.
We are like Andrew, who approaches Jesus with a young boy that has five barley loaves and two small fish. What are they for so many? There’s a lot of Andrew in all of us, especially when it comes to what Jesus is able to do for us. We confess our sins each week before this altar, but the thought just might enter our head, what are they for so many? We aren’t quite sure Jesus will forgive all our sins. There’s too many of them. He’s probably tired of hearing our confession. It’s the same old thing every week. I’m a poor, miserable sinner. I deserve everlasting death. I am sorry for committing them. I trust in Your blood and righteousness, O Lord. Yet what are they for so many?
We deserve only punishment not only for our sin, but also for our reckless lack of trust in Jesus Christ to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.Consider the promises in the Old Testament reading from Isaiah’s mouth: In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you…. They shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. Isaiah is not only talking about those who hear His words, he is also talking about you. These are God’s promises here, and they are for you, even when you don’t believe God will deliver on what He promises.
Consider also that these promises are not merely for food, drink, and shelter from wind and sun. There’s another reality at play here in Isaiah’s words inspired by the Holy Spirit. Isaiah is talking about your future in Jesus Christ. Isaiah is looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. This is your reality in Jesus Christ. This is what you have to look forward to in the resurrection. Just as Jesus provides food for 5,000 men in the wilderness who have heard His preaching, so He also provides for you not only everything you need for each day, but also your everything you need for eternal life.
The food you crave is more than a ten sack of White Castle sliders. You crave justice. You crave peace with God. Peace with God and justice is yours in Jesus Christ. As Isaiah says, the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. That’s future perfect tense there. Future perfect is used to describe an event that is expected or planned to happen before a time of reference in the future. The event is your salvation. Salvation has been promised before it happened.
The Father’s compassion on you happened when He promised the Seed of the woman will stomp the head of the serpent. The future event is about to happen again when we hear Jesus’ death for our sins on the cross. God’s standard default relationship to His children is mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and steadfast love. Comfort has come. Comfort has already happened. So has compassion. But that compassion becomes flesh in order to live a perfect live and suffer the perfect death for you. That compassion rises from the dead to declare you innocent before the Father in heaven. That resurrection compassion is your hope for your resurrection, your future glory in Christ Jesus.
When the people saw the sing that Jesus had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” The thing about that sentence is that many of the same people who said it would later turn their back on the Prophet who is to come into the world. They could not deal with His hard sayings and the fact that He is not an earthly king who demands an earthly throne. The throne set before the Savior is two beams of wood joined together for Him to lie on in order to suffer and die for the sin of the world. This is the mercy that is new to us every morning.
Jesus is our priceless treasure. He sets before you again today His Supper for you to eat and drink His Body and Blood for your forgiveness. You don’t have to grasp for air in order to receive His compassion. All you do is open your mouth and receive what He gives to you, just as baby robins do when they receive good things from their mother and father.
What are they for so many? They are a merciful gift from your heavenly Father, Who gives you everything you need to support this body and life. As we sang in the Chief Hymn: “Yea, whate’er I here must bear, Thou art still my purest pleasure, Jesus, priceless treasure!”