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Heermann on Lent IV – Laetare (John 6)

by Matthew Carver ~ March 15th, 2012

Johann Heermann on Laetare Sunday (John 6)
Translation © Matthew Carver, 2012.

Distich: In Jesus Christ the Lord rejoice! / Who with all joy His work employs.

Invocation: …Following the admonition of David, who says “Delight in the Lord and trust in Him, and He will give you what your heart desires,” let us put aside all else, set our minds on Jesus, and delight in Him.

Hymn: Our Father, Thou in Heav’n Above.

Text: John 6. “Afterward, Jesus departed…again to the mount alone.”

Introduction: Isaiah: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad over her, all ye who love her; rejoice with her all ye who were sorrowful for her. For therefore shall ye suck and be satisfied from the breasts of her consolation” (Is. 66:10–11).
    Rejoice always for your fatherland (Silesia/Poland was Christianized on a Laetare Sunday)
    Look to Jesus and you will sing “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice” Now let me ask, What should Christian heart should rejoice in most? Worldly joys pass away. Bernard: “Perfect joy comes not from the creation but the Creator.” Why should one rejoice in Jesus Christ? The text includes the following seven reasons:

I. Because of His Sea-Voyage.
    A. Caused by St. John the Baptist’s beheading by Herod.
        1. To mourn his friend / kinsman.
        2. To escape similar death, since it was not his time.
        3. Jesus experiencing such distress consecrates our sorrow.
         4. Though we must flee persecution, God will care for you and bring about good.
            a. Jacob fled Mesopotamia because Esau threatened death (Gen. 28).
            b. Moses fled after killing the Egyptian (Ex. 2).
            c. David fled from Saul (1 Sam. 19).
            d. Elijah fled from Jezebel (1 Ki. 19).
        5. We are partakers in Christ’s suffering, 
         and therefore in His glory (1 Pe. 4:13).
    B. Caused by His being exhausted.
        1. Mark: He was very busy doing wonders and preaching, and
         could not eat or rest. (cf. Mark 6:31).
        2. He went into the wilderness to rest.
        3. Here you see how bitterly Jesus toiled to teach, help, 
        and heal.
        4. He is still as ready to help and save in body and soul
            a. Your misery cries to him and he hears while you are
             far off.
            b. His mercy has no end, it is new every morning.
            c. "He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him" 
             (Ps. 145:19).
            d. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved 
             (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13).
        5. Therefore rise and come to Him; he will refresh you. 
         (Matt. 11:28).

II. Because of His Sharp Eyesight.
    A. The Lord sees his people before they see him.
        1. Examples
            a. Cyril: “He sees and knows those who seek Him 
             with fervent faith.”
            b. Sirach: “He sees all things from the beginning 
             of the world.” ( Sir. 23:20; cf. Sir. 15:18; 34:16; 39:19).
            c. He saw Nathaniel, a true Israelite, when he was under the fig-tree. 
            d. David: “You O Lord see…”
    B. He sees His people in their need.        
        1. Need of body / providence.
            a. The 5,000 who needed food.
                i. Compare Xerxes mourning over his army.
            b. Israelites under Pharaoh’s yoke.
            c. Hagar and Ishmael in Beersheba. Lahairoi.
        2. Misery / broken, contrite spirit.
            a. “I see the miserable and him of a broken spirit, and  
             who fears my word.”
            b. “He is near to those who are of a broken heart, and
             helps those…”
        3. Desparation and fainting of conscience.
            a. Hezekiah: “I was anxious for consolation, but You O 
             Lord perceived…”
            b. Jonah despaired in the whale but was delivered.
            c. St. Paul was stricken by Satan’s messenger: “My grace 
             is sufficient…”
            d. The Lord looked tenderly at Peter after his fall.
            e. Mary Magdalene could only weep, but he forgave her.
            f. He saw Zaccheus in the tree.
    C. He still sees the needy.
        1. Examples.
            a. David: “Who is like the Lord our God, who sits on 
             high, but looks down on the lowly…?”
            b. Joseph went from prisoner to prince.
            c. David went from sheep-keeper to king
            d. Orphan Esther became queen of over 127 lands.

    D. He sees the sick and dying.
            1. Examples.
                a. KIng Hezekiah was told: “Set your house in order…”
                b. When he mourned, he was given fifteen more years.
                c. The Lord saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom.
    E. He will certain help us in body and soul.

III. Because of His Faithful Care.
    A. He is compassionate.
        1. To Philip: “Where shall we buy bread…?”
    B. He thinks of ways and means to dispel our crosses
        1. “He knew well what He would do.”
        2. He knows how to help you.
        3. God would not be God if He had to forsake you.
    C. His care is all-encompassing.
        1. “The righteous will live forever…” (Wisd.)
        2. “His care governs all; He keeps us …” (Sir 18:3).
        3. Paul: He is not far from any of us…
        4. Augustine: God cares as much for each of us as if for each alone.
    D. God provides before and after.    
        1. Jacob’s storehouses in Canaan
        2. quenched Samson’s thirst after making him defeat the Phiistines
        3. Brought Elijah food by ravens and had him go to the brook Cherith.
        4. Daniel was protected by lions and then given meat.
        5. God prophesied a famine through Agabus and provided support from Judea through Barnabas and Saul.
        6. Helena sent grain and produce to the poor in Jerusalem
        7. Aurelius Probus’ warhost received rain and grain from heaven.
        8. Paul the Hermit was given shelter during he persecutions, where he had a well and roots and fruit of the palmtree, and food brought by raven; and lived to 112.
    E. If you fall into need and danger, do not worry, Jesus will provide.
        1. He carries his believers like a man carries his son…
        2. “What is man, that You are so mindful of him…?”
        3. David: “The Lord watches over all who love him, and is their help.”
        4. Christ: “No hair on your head shall be lost…”
        5. The three children in the furnace.
        6. “Cast your cares on the Lord, for He provides for us.”

IV. Because of His Proving by Testing.
    A. He said to Philip: Whence shall we get bread here in the wilderness? 
        1. not to ask help but to prove
        2. He made all things without help. He has all things and needs nothing.
    B. He sends tribulation to those who believe in Him and are reconciled.
        1. “Behold, I will purify you, but not as silver, but I will make you elect in the furnace of misery.” (Is. 48:10)
        2. Sirach: “All that you meet with, endure it, and be patient in all sorrow…” (Sir. 2:4-5)
        3. Philo: “The righteous shall be punished a little, but much good will come…”
        4. Peter: “You are sad now for a little while…” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
    C. To strengthen faith.
        1. As Flint contains a hidden fire that requires steel and iron to draw it out: so the godly have flames of faith that must be drawn out by the strokes of the cross.
        2. Abraham’s test with Isaac.
        3. Job lost his family and livestock, but did not sin or act foolishly against God
        4. Tobias lost riches and sight, but was an example of patience
            a. Raphael: “Because you  were dear o God, you could not escape trial, that you might be tested.”
    C. God not only sends trials, but remains aloof and distant.
        1. Israel wandered 40 years so that God could humble them and try their hearts.
    D. God also lets divisions and factions enter the church.
        1. Moses: “When a dreamer rises up among you…” (Deut. 13)
    E. The Lord knows the heart without proving it, but he does it for people’s sake.
        1. So that we we and others may know it.
        2. So that we may learn to humble ourselves and trust in Him.
            a. Gregory: “In times of difficulty, all that is good or bad in us appears…”
    F. Rejoice in God’s good plans and fatherly love, and trust Him.
        1. James: “Account it pure joy…”

V. Because of His Longsuffering and Patience.
    A. His disciples sin grossly not only by mistrust in his goodness, but disbelief in his power and ability to provide.
        1. Philip: “200 pfennig were not enough…”
        2. Andrew: “…but what are these to such a multitude?”
        3. Though they had seen the miracles previous, they forgot.
    B. Nevertheless, Christ is patient with their weakness.
        1. We are weak, esp. when we see no help in front of us.
        2. Who can know his faults?
    C. In sorrow over your failures, remember Jesus’ patience here and elsewhere.
        1. He does not desire our destruction, but governs us with gentleness through tribulations.
        2. Examples.
            a. Moses: “O God, merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and of great goodness and faithfulness…”
            b. David:  “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, patient…” etc. Ps. 103
            c. Isaiah: “The broken reed…”
            d. Wisdom: “O Lord, Your strength is a government of righteousness…” (Wisd. 12:16-18a)
            e. Jesus: “I came to call sinners to repentance…”;  “Come unto Me…”
            f. Bernard: “Jesus’ heart has a twofold sweetness of goodness: The expectation of our repentance, and the readiness to accept the repentant.”
            g. Countless incidents of patience with the Israelites in the wilderness.
            h. Treated Thomas like a shepherd his sheep.
            i. Bernard: “I sinned, and was stuck in sin, and You Lord unbarred the way. I tarried in wickedness, and You extended Your goodness and gave me time for repentance.”
    D. He does not punish us as we deserve
        1. We would have long since been destroyed in His wrath.
        2. Not a moment goes by when we do not sin.
            a. Jeremiah: “The goodness of the Lord is this, that we are not destroyed. His mercy has no end, but is every morning new, and His faithfulness is great.”
    E. So rejoice!
        1. Do not abuse His longsuffering by willful sin.
        2. Whoever despises His grace piles up sin and hardens his heart for the day of judgment.
        3. Gregory: “The longer He waits for your repentance, the harder He strikes at last.”

VI. Because of the Wondrous Feeding of the 5,000.    
    A. Text cited.  Christ’s power is evident
        1. If you are poor, don’t worry, trust Him
        2. “The Lord knows the days of the godly, and their riches will last forever. They shall not be put to shame in the evil day, and in famine they shall have enough.”
        3. “I have been young, and am become old, and have never see the just forsaken, nor his seed go after bread.”
    B. If you don’t know how you will live.
        1. The widow of Zarephath
    C. If your food is insipid, bad, or hard to eat.
        1. The bitter water of Marah was sweetened
        2. Poisonous pods of Gilgal
        3. Daniel and his fellows ate vegetables and were healthier
    D. If you say, today I finish all that I have; if I live, I don’t know what to do.
        1. Trust God and pray to Him in trouble, who provided for His disciples
        2. Israel in the wilderness, food was not lacking, nor did their shoes wear out.
        3. Elijah was sent bread and water through an angel
        4. Bread fell from heaven after the drought and plague in Phrygia, Gal., etc.
        5. “Man lives not by bread alone…”
    E. Why then be sad?

VII. Because of the Contemplation of the Kingdom of heaven.
    A. Text: Jews wrongly thought the Messiah would have an earthly kingdom
        1. Euthymius: “Now that they were filled, they say that he is the prophet who was to come according to Moses’ prophecy.”
        2. Augustine: “Jesus flees and refuses the honor because he was not the kind of a king who would be anointed by men but one who would give the kingdom to men.”
    B. His kingdom is not of this world.
    C. You must bear cross and misery for now.
        1. Your King will transport you to His kingdom hereafter.
        2. “I will appoint unto you a kingdom…” (Luke 22:29–30).
        3. Then you will hear “Come, ye blessed of My Father…”

Closing Benediction.

Now that each one of us may discern Christ Jesus’ heart-quickening words of joy, and enjoy His glory in His eternal kingdom— this grant to you and me the Lord Jesus Himself ; who together with His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit is blessed forever. Amen, Amen. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, and only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever.

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