From the Word
1 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, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat.
Mark 8:1–2, RSV
Behold, what a sympathetic Christ we have, who even provides food for us. Here new hope is awakened and man is comforted through the words of Christ, when he says: Here they are and listen to me until the third day. I must now give them also what they need. Here you see that all who faithfully cling to the Word of God will be fed by God; for that is the nature and power of faith, which flows alone out of the Word of God.
Therefore let us make a beginning to believe; for unbelief is the cause of all sin and vice, which now abounds in all stations of life. How does it come to pass that everywhere there are so many foolish women and rogues, so many rank impostors, thieves, robbers, usurers, murderers, and sellers of indulgences? It all comes from unbelief. For such men judge alone according to human reason, and the reason judges only according to that which it sees; what it does not see it does not wish to accept.
But Christ wishes to set before us a twofold picture, namely, one of faith, that we should not be overanxious; and also a picture of love, that as he does to us, is anxious about our welfare, feeds and clothes us out of free love, not for the sake of his own advantage or because of our worthiness; so we should also do to our neighbor, freely and gratuitously, out of pure love. This is beautifully portrayed in the visible picture of the four thousand men who cling to God by a faith which says: God will indeed feed us. They commend themselves to God and freely lay all their need upon him. Then Christ comes, before they have any care and before they ask him to come, takes all more to heart than they do themselves, and says to his disciples, “I have compassion on the multitude.” In this confidence and hope let thy faith run its course, acknowledge that God is thy friend, flee to him in greatest need; believe and expect it and he will help thee; this thou shouldst not doubt. In harmony with this thou shouldst serve thy neighbor freely and gratuitously.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 303–04.