Fourth Sunday in Lent + John 6:1-5
When Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, He fasted, He went without food, He was hungry, and the devil tempted Him to turn the rocks into loaves of bread. Jesus said to the devil, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The devil had no power over Jesus. Jesus is Almighty God. In His humility and suffering, Jesus did not allow the devil to lead Him astray, from accomplishing what our Father in heaven sent Him to do, suffer and die for the sins of the world, that we would have forgiveness, life and eternal salvation.
A large crowd was following Jesus, because they had seen Him heal the sick. Jesus looked up and saw them and said, “”Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Jesus did not want these people, who were following Him, to be hungry. Jesus did not want these people to fall into temptation. Jesus did not want the devil to have any power over the crowds. Jesus guards and protects the people who were following Him, that the devil, the world and their own sinful nature would not deceive them, lead them astray, or mislead them into false belief, despair and any other great shame and vice which, left on their own, would attack them and overcome them. And although the people who followed Jesus, are attacked by hunger and sickness and the heat of the day, Jesus takes compassion upon them. He does not want them to suffer. He does not want them to go astray. Jesus does not want them to die. As the devil had no power over Him in the wilderness, He does not want the devil to have any power over them. Jesus shows them mercy. Jesus considers them. Jesus opens His hands and richly provides for them. The crowds, who followed Jesus, are not in want
Jesus looked up and saw the crowds and said, “”Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Jesus didn’t ask how they were going to get enough money to pay for the food, but that is what Philip, one of Jesus’ thought disciples, thought. Philip said, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” Jesus was not concerned about cost. Jesus knew where the food would come from and no amount of money can buy it. The Prophet Isaiah recorded the words of God, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
Shortly after He feeds the 5,000 plus men, women and children with five barley loaves and two small fish, Jesus says, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” Jesus said, “My Father in heaven gives the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus is the bread we receive, and it has no cost.
Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Me, whoever places all fear, love and trust in Me, has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
Jesus knows hunger and thirst and need. After He was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, He was led out by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness and went without food for forty days and was hungry. When He was suffering and dying on the cross, for the sins of the world, He said, “I thirst.” When He was preaching, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Jesus knows our hunger, He knows our needs, He knows our sufferings and our pains, and He provides for them. We are not in want.
Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
We worry, we worry a lot. At this time, we worry about a having enough to take care of ourselves and our family, we worry about a virus, we worry about sickness, we worry our death and the death of those we love. At the beginning of our service, we prayed that we would remember that our heavenly Father’s mercies are new to us every morning; and although we deserve only punishment, He receives us as His dear children and provides for all our needs of body and soul. We worry and our heavenly Father takes care of us, He opens His hands and richly and daily provides for us. He provides food when we are hungry, clothing when we are naked, healing when we are sick, friendship when we are alone, and life in death. This is why I am so thankful for our two congregations, Immanuel and Trinity Lutheran, these two churches in the country which I serve, you make sure that the Word of God is preached and taught in all of its truth and purity and the Sacraments are administered regularly according to Jesus’ command and promise. Not only now, when the world is in chaos, but always in the past and into the future, until our Lord comes again to take us from this valley of sorrow to be where He is in heaven. You know that God’s Word and Baptism and Communion and the forgiveness of sins are all that we have. They are our help and our strength. They are what our faith clings to. This is why we are gathering, not in groups of 5,000 but in groups of ten or less to physically receive what our Lord wants to give us.
It is our constant prayer, that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayers because of them. With all boldness and confidence we ask that our heavenly Father not turn His face from us, but that He would bless us and keep us. This is why, during this season of Lent and always, we look to the cross and the suffering and death of Jesus. Because of what happened on Good Friday, we know that we are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them. We know that we must repent of our sins, turning away from our failure to love God above all things and our unwillingness to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And it is precisely because Jesus did suffer and die on the cross and rose again from the grave, that we do pray, confident that He will give everything to us by His abundant grace and blessing. God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, even to those who do not deserve it, but we pray that God our heavenly Father would lead us to realize this and that we would receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. God is faithful, He does all things for our good. Amen.