As we consider Our Lord’s miracles, we often divert our attention away from the miracle itself and towards eternity. Especially when we look at the healing miracles, we’re quick to say that it reminds us of the perfection we will enjoy in heaven when we receive our bodies back perfected. It’s our way of telling ourselves not to look for or expect a miracle like Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. While that’s understandable, maybe it’s not the best thing to do. God has not sent His Son to die merely for our future spiritual good. He has sent Him to redeem us, to make us His children now. He who was crucified and is risen from the dead has done that 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, and everything else. Still today, He has compassion on us and He acts on it, He delivers that compassion to us in real time in Word and Sacrament.
Unless Jesus does something miraculous, the four thousand will die. Jesus doesn’t say that exactly, but you can connect the dots without much work. What Jesus says is that they will pass out from exhaustion. But before that He said that they have been following Him into the wilderness, listening to His teaching for three days. If you have a three-day journey just to get home, you have to go without any food or water and no rest stops or McDonalds’ or grocery stores, and you pass out along the way, what do you think will happen to you? These people are going to die unless Jesus does something. The same is true of you. Without the miraculous intervention of Jesus Christ, feeding you both in body and soul, you would die in this journey to your eternal home.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.