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Lent 4 – John 6:1-15

by pastorjuhl ~ March 14th, 2012

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

            Trust me. Easy to say, very hard to do, especially in this cynical age. Jesus asks Philip a “trust me” question when He asks, where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat? Saint John is quick to mention Jesus said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He would do. You might think it not fair for Jesus to ask Philip this question all the while knowing what He would do. Jesus asks Philip this question in order to see whether Philip would trust Him.

Philip’s faith is tested in order to see whether or not Philip trusts Jesus knows best what to do in this situation. Philip fails our Lord’s test with his answer, two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little. Unlike the Canaanite woman two weeks ago, Philip does not grab on to what he has seen and heard before. He trusts in his own reason and senses. He forgets that Jesus will provide everything to support body and life. Philip falls back on his own self and his fellow disciples, wondering if they could pool all their resources, especially money, in order to feed the multitude.

The Lord allows you even today to come into want or all sorts of other adversities. He provides you with a similar question like that asked of Philip. The Lord lets you feel distress and helplessness in many ways. Perhaps it is the death of your spouse or a family member. Perhaps it is losing your job or finding yourself underemployed. God does not allow these things to happen in order to bring evil upon you or to cause you to sin. He knows the way out. He wants to see whether you also know the way out of distress. When you fail, and you will fail more often than not, the Lord helps you recognize your weakness. He allows you to see just how small and weak your faith really is.

Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little. Philip’s answer is not only the wrong answer, it doesn’t even answer Jesus’ question. You would think Philip would recall the many signs and wonders Jesus performed. Then there are the marvelous sermons Jesus preaches. Philip’s answer should be, “Lord, you are the Giver of every good and perfect gift. You satisfy everything with life and pleasure. You will also help here.” Not so. Philip falls back on his reason and all his senses. He goes right to the heart of the matter as he sees it: the lack of money to buy food and drink. See what little faith Philip has here! Even Andrew fails the test when he says about the five loaves of bread and two fish, what are they for so many? For Andrew, faith becomes a mathematician that cannot solve a problem even when he knows the answer.

You also lose heart easily. Solomon writes in Proverbs, trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. These are familiar words. How quickly you forget, or don’t know, what comes afterward: be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Consider the parsonage addition, the partial re-shingling of the church roof, and the impending interior renovation of the parsonage. Yes, it’s a sacrifice beyond your regular tithe. Yes, these are scary economic times. Yes, your trust is in the Lord. But there’s common sense matters too. Why would a Christian congregation borrow money in times like these? The Lord has seen us through in good shape so far. In Him, all things are possible, even repayment of loans and beautifying our corner of Momence.

The Lord will answer Philip’s question. Have the people sit down. From His Word follows deed. Jesus took the meager resources that were available, five loaves of bread and two fish, thanked God, broke the bread and gave both bread and fish to His disciples, and they handed it out among the people. While He did this, the bread and the fish grew visibly in the Hands of the Lord, so that they all ate and were satisfied, about five thousand men, not counting women and children. This is the mighty and unambiguous answer to the question the Lord asked Philip.

Jesus is our Chief Steward. He gives you as He wills, How much He gives you is also according to His good and gracious will. He provided ravens to bring Elijah bread and meat twice a day. The Psalmist writes I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. Even our blessed Lord says seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Jesus provides for you in ways like this miracle year after year. The only problem is that you do not pay attention to it and take it to heart.

Repent. Do not confuse faith in Christ to faith in geometric proofs or actuarial charts. Trust Jesus in every need of body and soul. Believe that Jesus is your inexhaustible source of all earthly blessings, not to mention heavenly blessings such as redemption from sin and everlasting death. This is God’s kingdom coming to you. The Holy Spirit carries the redeeming Word of Christ through preaching and the Sacraments. Hearing the Word and gladly keeping it is letting God’s kingdom come. As God’s kingdom comes to you, His will is done also among you. His will for you is to let Him provide everything you need to support your body and life. His will for you is two simple words: TRUST ME. All is well with you when you allow the Lord to take care of your needs, especially your need for salvation.

From this joyful trust in the Lord’s goodness follows proper thankfulness, proper use of earthly gifts like time, money, and ability, as well as sufficiency. Saint Paul tells young Pastor Timothy: if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. The Lord’s goodness is not an occasion for you to seek only earthly good from Jesus, like the Jews who wanted to make Christ their earthly King. The Lord’s goodness is an occasion for you to believe that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance, to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

If things go better with Coca-Cola, how much better will they go with Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Provider, for those who fear the Lord have no lack. Psalm 40 says You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. When Jesus says, Trust Me, you can rest secure in His request, for He will make sure you are never in want.

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

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