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Lent 4 Preachment – Laetare

by pastorjuhl ~ February 27th, 2008

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Luther’s Small Catechism teaches us to ask a blessing before a meal by making the sign of the cross and speaking a portion of Psalm 145: The eyes of all look to You, O Lord, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. That’s exactly what Jesus does for five thousand men in John chapter six.

All eyes were on our Lord as a multitude followed Him into the wilderness. They saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.

Why do you follow Jesus? Do you expect Him to do the same for you as He does in the Gospels? Jesus does much more for you than you will ever know. But that’s not enough. The little things in life don’t count. Food, clothing, shelter, family, spouse, and children are a given. These are nearly basic human rights. Everybody should have these things without asking for them. Isn’t that what is behind Psalm 145, especially the phrase: You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing?

Jesus provides for you out of mercy, not out of necessity. You think you need the perfect house, the perfect family, the perfect congregation, and every single creature comfort available. Every meal has to be an event or else it’s not a real meal. All our clothes have to be name brands or else we are mocked as not trendy enough for the masses. There’s never enough to go around for me, let alone my family.

Philip takes one look at the multitude in the wilderness and thinks the same thing you do. Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little. A denarius is one day’s wage. Two hundred denarii are almost seven months wages. And that’s just for bread! What about meat, vegetables, drink, and dessert? It’s a long way to the market. The billfold is empty. Something has to be done.

There is a boy with five loaves of bread and two small fish. What are they among so many? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Andrew’s cry of resignation comes out of our mouths all the time. We have closets full of clothes. We have cabinets full of food. We have more than 57 channels of television and there’s still nothing on! We want or own the latest, greatest, updated everything, but it’s not enough. What was that again about our Lord opening His hand and satisfying the desires of every living thing? Isn’t He supposed to give me everything I want? God is unfair because I am not satisfied with my bread in the wilderness.

The Israelites said the same thing after they left Egypt, even when God provided them with enough manna and quail for the day. When they tried to store it up, it rotted and stank. God promised enough for the day. There would be more. But some didn’t trust His Word.

We don’t trust the Lord’s Word. We hear again and again how God saves His people from the brink of disaster. We trust that He will do the same for us. Yet we can’t get over ourselves enough to trust completely in our Father’s providential care. We think He’s a liar. We think this time will be the time He will let us down. We know it’s our turn to take matters into our own hands.

Apply our heavenly Father’s providential care to His work of salvation on our behalf. We say and do the same thing there as we do when it comes to daily bread. We are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. But we don’t believe it. We think God needs our help. Worse yet, we think God has forgotten that He has destroyed sin and death.

God never forgets. He knows what you need before you ask it. You forget that God knows only one way to give…the way of more. That’s how He gives in John chapter six. Five loaves and two fish feed five thousand men, not including women and children. You figure there has to be another five thousand women and children. That makes a conservative estimate of ten thousand people fed with enough food for two to four people. And there are leftovers; twelve baskets full of leftovers!

God never forgets. Thus says the Lord: In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You…they shall neither hunger nor thirst, neither heat nor sun shall strike them; for He who has mercy on them will lead them, even by the springs of water He will guide them. The Lord is talking about Jesus in the first part. God hears His Son’s cries of lament over what His beloved children do to Him. Though our heavenly Father has every right to close His ears toward you, He doesn’t. He hears His Son’s cries of mercy from the cross and answers in an unexpected way.

The Father forsakes His Son so you are not forsaken. That’s mercy beyond the call of duty. Feeding five thousand men with very little food is mercy too. So is raising Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus from the dead. Changing water into wine is quite merciful. There are many more merciful moments that our Lord Christ performed. The most merciful moment of all was when He hangs His body on a cross to take away your sin and rises from the dead as conqueror of death. He does not hog His mercy to Himself. He lays down His life and takes it up again for you.

When the people in the wilderness cry out this is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world, little did they know that this Prophet was not the bread king, but the King of Kings. Many who were fed in the wilderness forsook Him not long after because they couldn’t handle Jesus calling Himself the Bread of Life and the Living Bread which comes down from heaven. They thought He would start some sort of cannibalistic cult where people literally could eat His flesh and call it bread.

What Jesus means when He calls Himself living bread and the Bread of Life is how we eat and drink Him in His holy Church. When His Word is preached and read publicly, we eat His flesh and drink His blood. When we kneel before His altar and receive Holy Communion, we eat His flesh and drink His blood under bread and wine. These things are not spiritual eating and drinking. Preaching, baptizing, communing, and absolving are eating His flesh and drinking His blood. When we eat and drink Him, we show forth His death until He comes again.

He will come again, just as He promised. Jesus lives. That’s mercy personified. You will not die because Jesus lives. You live in the acceptable time. Every day with Jesus is the day of salvation. You are no longer under bondage. You are free. The Promise of eternity with God is for you and your children. No wonder the first word of the Introit is rejoice. Even in the heart of Lent we rejoice with all of Jerusalem, both Jew and Gentile. The Living Bread is enough to tide us over until He opens His hands and takes us to His side, where we will be truly satisfied for all eternity.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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