Sunday, March 10, 2013

Laetare - The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2013. John 6:1-15.
The Feeding of the Five Thousand



Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2013



Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 151                 Christ the Life                       2:78
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #429            Lord Thee I Love                2:54 

The Miraculous Abundance

The Communion Hymn #311            Huss Hymn             2:79
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 45                    Now the Hour             2:95

KJV Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son didst feed five thousand men in the desert with five loaves and two fishes: We beseech Thee to abide graciously also with us in the fullness of Thy blessing. Preserve us from avarice and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things perceive Thy fatherly goodness, through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God world without end. Amen.

The Miraculous Abundance

 

John 6:12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

Lenski:
Without telling us in so many words, John presents Jesus at the height of his Galilean ministry. And there was following him a great multitude, because they were beholding the signs he was doing upon those that were sick. The three imperfect tenses picture Jesus in the full exercise of his activity at this period, including, of course, the present crossing of the Sea. The statement that the crowds were attracted by “beholding the signs he was doing” is intended to parallel 2:23 and to show that in general the situation here in Galilee was a duplication of the previous one which occurred in Jerusalem. Not the teaching but merely the signs were the great attraction. This John wants us to bear in mind for the sake of what follows.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 428.

There is so much in this Gospel lesson, in just a few verses. This was the peak of Jesus’ ministry, a time when vast numbers of people knew about His miracles and others were there (on pilgrimage) to share in them.

Many people followed because of their curiosity, wanting to be thrilled by a miracle or shown proof for the claims about Jesus. Many believed in Him and came to Him.

Some were miracle followers, because this was the best show in town. No one should wonder that Jesus’ teaching often went right past them. The entire Gospel message is meant for believers, not for curiosity seekers.

Many churches are organized for this curiosity seeker today. They promise miracles or material gain. Since people are looking for a show, the sponsors provide a circus for them. Nothing is ever enough, so one fad leads to another, and the displays become more ridiculous all the time.

The other group would be the Word-seekers. They were hungry for the Word of God, and they were satisfied. Jesus confirmed the absolute authority of the Word with the miracles He performed. They also showed the scope of His power – power over all of Creation, from changing water into wine, to stilling the storm, To walking on water, to multiplying the loaves. Raising the dead was the miracle beyond all the rest. But in each case, they showed divine power used to emphasize something about Jesus’ ministry and purpose.

Not everyone who saw this miracle became a long-term follower. “This is a hard saying” and many of His disciples fell away. It is ironic that they rejected the Word of God at the most important time, when Jesus was teaching them the way to forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Jesus knew what He would do. The long distance travel among the followers and the newly arrived pilgrims meant that everyone was hungry and out of food. One of the first lessons of dessert survival is having enough water and food to keep the body functioning.

By waiting until dark, Jesus forced the issue, instead of sending them home early to get their own food.

The first thing was to get bad ideas out in the open, to serve as a future lesson for the apostles and for us. If everything had gone smoothly we would have nothing to study and consider.

Many times people find fault with the methods Jesus used to teach all of us, as if the whole matter should have been handled better (by the critic of the moment).

7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?


The finance committee, always the Bad News Bears, have a quick meeting and decide that there is not enough to take care of the enormous crowd. The vote is two to zero – it cannot be done.

This is a good miracle for congregations and for individuals. Believers do not doubt the truth of the Word, but it is often difficult to see God’s plan in the murky and twisted world caused by sin, greed, and false doctrine.

False teachers seem to prosper and endure beyond all human understanding. In contrast, the orthodox find themselves battered and bruised by everything. As Luther once observed, “Even the weather is against them.”

There is additional irony in this, because people who have an abundance of undeserved good fortune take it for granted or as a sign they richly deserve it. Thus they often waste the most obvious opportunities for good because they are so busy consuming the luxuries they have.

Gibbon said about the Roman Empire in decline, “They used and abused their luxuries.”

So, at the start of any deliberation in a congregation, people say, “It cannot be done.” And it is good when all human reason says, “That is true.” And yet, in faith, many have begun the task and found miraculous returns.

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

Jesus planned this in advance. The people arrived in a place with fresh water – much grass in this place. So it was an oasis, comfortable for resting. The men sat down in ranks (see the other accounts), which made it possible to pass the food through the crowd. Where there are food riots, people stampede the few who are close to the food. Many die and most is wasted.

This pre-figures the Last Supper and its continuance as Holy Communion, but it is not exactly the same as the Eucharist. The lesson we get from this miracle is the divine possibility of doing so much with so little. Human reason says, “Communion must be symbolic because there was only so much then and it cannot expand over the centuries. A nice practice, but what is this among so many?”

11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

Because the loaves and fish make up the meal, the main point of the lesson is about God providing beyond all human reason.

Luther:
3. That he now takes the five loaves and gives thanks etc., teaches that nothing is too small and insignificant for him to do for his followers, and he can indeed so bless their pittance that they have an abundance, whereas even the rich have not enough with all their riches; as Psalm 34:11 says: “They that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing; but the rich must suffer hunger.” And Mary in her song of praise says: “The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” Luke 1:53.

America’s lack of gratitude for the protection of God and the peace He has given us – not to mention the prosperity – all this has served to throw it all away with bad schemes, oppression, and loss of blessings.

12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

Someone can find many allegorical meanings in this lesson, as Luther did in the sermon republished on the blog.

But we should start with the obvious. The people had to travel back and needed some food along the way. The baskets served as their extra food along the way and showed that God’s blessings should not be wasted.

The concept of frugality has been lost, as if spending more money gets better results. That has meant a clamoring for the rich while neglecting the ordinary church member, the one with a few loaves and fish.

These donations form the basis of what God does in a miraculous way. And it comes it many ways – some technical knowledge (broadcast), some art (Biblical graphics), some music (singing), and some financing from gifts.

More irony comes from comments that say, “You are nothing. You are too small. You do not count.” But if that were so, they would not need to say it does not matter. Obviously, it does.

Quotations

"Nothing in the world so effectively hinders faith as mammon, or riches, on the one hand and poverty on the other.  He who is rich and has something simply ignores God's Word and treads it underfoot.  So the Gospel speaks of those who are invited to the great supper but 'cannot' attend because of their acre, oxen, wife, etc. (Luke 14)  He who is poor does everything that pleases the devil and the world in order to stave off poverty."
     What Luther Says, ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I,  p. 435. John 6:1‑15; Luke 14.           

"How does it happen that although all of us are certainly Christians, or at least want to be such, we do not take this attitude of unconcern and neither comfort ourselves with abundance and surpolus nor are frightened by want and by worrying about it?  For if we faithfully and devotedly cling to God's Word, there shall be no want.  Christ takes care of us, and from this it must follow
that we shall have something to eat."
     What Luther Says, I,  p. 436.

                 Children  
"Children are the most delightful pledges of a loving marriage.  They are the best wool on the sheep."
     What Luther Says, I,  p. 137. 

"We should deal with children in such a way that they do not fear their parents, but that they know that they are offending God if they do not fear their parents."
     What Luther Says, I, p. 142.

"Chastize them when they deserve it, but accompany the correction with affectionate words so that they do not become dis-heartened and expect nothing good from you.  It is very bad if a son loves someone else more than his father. The father should give some sort of proof that there is no in-tention entirely to crush the child.  The Law alone serves no good purpose; in fact, it is intolerable."
     What Luther Says, I,  p. 142. 1533, Ephesians 6:4.         

            The Small Catechism
P:  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.  What does this mean?
C:  We should fear and love God that we may not estrange, force, or entice away from our neighbor his wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and do their duty. 
P:  What does God say of all these commandments?
C:  He says thus:  I, the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.



 

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