Fourth Sunday in Lent + Exodus 16:2-21; Acts 2:41-47; John 6:1-15
The whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled and complained against Moses and Aaron.
They were in the wilderness for forty years, after God brought them out of bondage and slavery in Egypt, but the people complained believing that it would have been better to die as slaves in Egypt, being treated as animals, rather than be free with God.
In the wilderness they were hungry, they had nothing to eat, but in Egypt they had bread and meat to the full.
God’s people believed that God was going to kill them with hunger and starvation.
Just like God’s Old Testament people, bad times cause us to despair, fall into false belief, losing hope and trust in God. We doubt God’s love for us when we have money problems, loss of possessions, sickness, or injury.
Just like God’s Old Testament people, we are upset with what God when things don’t go the way we want them to go, or expect them to go.
We do not fear, love and trust in God above all things.
We confess in the Apostles’ Creed, that we believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
We believe that God has made us, He has given us a body and soul, eyes, ears, and all our members, our reason and all our senses, and still takes care of us.
He has not created us and then left us. He is not distant from us. He wants the best for us.
We have received from God, all that we need to support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
He defends us against all danger and guards and protects us from all evil.
All this He does for us only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us. We do not deserve anything we have received from the generous hand of God. For all this it is our duty and responsibility to thank and praise, serve and obey God.
But we don’t. We, like the people of Israel, grumble and complain against God.
We don’t thank God like we should.
We do not love the Lord thy God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind. But God is faithful toward us. He never leaves us or forgets about us.
He loves us even though we don’t deserve it. He does not punish us even though we deserve to be punished.
As He did with the people of Israel, He hears our complaints, our prayers and requests, and He answers them. He richly and daily provides for us, and we are blessed.
God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, even to those who grumble and complain against God.
But we we pray that God would lead us to realize this and to receive, that we would return to the Lord, our God, and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
We should not doubt God. He is faithful to us. He loves us. He will gladly do for us what we need.
This is how it is with Jesus, and the five thousand, whom He fed with five loaves of bread and two fish.
Jesus sees the crowds and provides for them, even before they realized they were in need.
Jesus tells the disciples to have the people sit down in the green grass. Jesus then took the bread and gave thanks for it and distributed it to those who were seated. And also the fish, as much as they wanted. The people were filled.
As Jesus is faithful to the 5000 plus men women and children along the sea of Galilee, so too Jesus is the Good Shepherd of the sheep.
We pray, the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is our confidence, our hope and our strength. It is our constant prayer, that we never doubt this precious truth.
This is how it is with us, as it has always been with the people of God. We believe in the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints. We have received the Word of God and we are baptized. God has made us His own. He is our God and we are His people. We devote ourselves to the teaching of the apostles, all that God speaks to us and commands us. We devote ourselves to the prayers, praying for all people that God would bless them and keep them and make His face to shine upon them. We eagerly come and receive our daily bread in the Lord’s Supper. We taste and see that the Lord is good toward us, slow to anger toward us, abounding in steadfast love toward us forever. The forgiveness of sins is ours, the resurrection of the body is our, the life of the world to come in heaven is ours. Daily and at all times we receive from the generous hand of God and we respond with praise and thanksgiving, for it is right to give Him thanks and praise. Amen.