Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sermon -- 10th Sunday after Penteocst (August 5, 2012)

JOHN 6:1-15

In the name + of Jesus.

     The Lord is the Maker of heaven and earth.  He not only created all things, he also sustains all things.  He richly and daily provides clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, cattle, and all that we own.  The Lord knows that you need your daily bread, and he supplies it without fail.  We have experienced a significant drought in our land this past summer.  Farmers have lost crops both in the fields and on the fruit trees.  And still, the grocery stores are open and the shelves are stocked.  Your food this year may be more expensive, but it will still be provided.  Even in a bad year, the Lord is good.
     The Lord was also good to the crowds who had come to see him.  Thousands had swarmed in the wilderness because Jesus was there.  But in their enthusiasm to see Jesus, they did not come prepared.  They ran into the wilderness without food. 
     Jesus recognized the impending problem.  Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread that these people may eat?” (John 6:5)  Philip must have been thinking, “You’re putting this on me?!  Where am I supposed to come up with food to feed thousands??”  Philip responded to Jesus, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” (John 6:7)  The apostles did not have the funds to buy bread for the people to have hors d’ourves, much less to feed them a meal.  Andrew offered some help, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish….” (John 6:7).  But he also recognized that his help was practically useless: “But how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:7) 
     Jesus highlighted the problem, but Jesus also had said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. (John 6:6)  Jesus knew what the crowds and the disciples needed.  It was not just food that they would need.  Jesus could have just told them, “There are a lot of people and we are going to need a lot of food.  If you thought healing the lame was big, just watch this!”  But the people did not need a show, and Jesus was not there simply to astound and amaze the crowds.  Jesus supplies the needs of all people, and what these people needed was to learn to rely on Jesus for all things.
     He who created the earth and sustains all its creatures would provide all that was needed.  Rather than produce fields of grain and boatloads of fish, Jesus simply multiplied the final products.  After he blessed the food, he continued to distribute to the people, as much as they wanted.  The leftovers of Jesus’ blessing were greater than his original sources.  Jesus supplied all their needs.
     The lesson is not that Jesus feeds your belly and satisfies your cravings.  That is what the crowds concluded from Jesus’ miracle.  But Jesus would have none of it.  Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:15)  He does not come to feed your bellies, to stuff you wallets, or to bring social justice and world peace.  Those are the promises of politicians, and you don’t really believe them.  Jesus is not a worldly king.
     You will never appreciate your need for a Savior until you feel the pain and guilt of your sins.  You will never crave eternal life until you recognize not only that death is what you will face, but also that hell is what you deserve.  You may not pray to the Lord until he removes every support you have.  Sadly, it is not until the doctor says there is no hope that people say in desperation, “Well, I guess now all we can do is pray.”  It is to say, “Well, now that we have tried all we can think of, there is nothing left but to throw our concerns to the all-powerful, all-loving, and all-wise God.” – as if that is the last thing to do instead of the first thing you should do.
     Jesus may let you fall to the point of utter weakness and hopelessness just so that you will recognize that all of the things you count on are never things that should be counted on.  Jobs can be lost.  Homes can be destroyed.  Friends can forsake you.  Even family can turn on you or be taken from you in death.  While the Lord usually provides you with strength, comfort, and sustenance through these means, they cannot replace the Lord who gives them.  They cannot save; therefore, do not put your trust in them.
     Jesus had asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5)  Philip saw the problem, but he had no good answer.  Andrew found a boy with five loaves and two fish, but he knew it was a pitiful solution for a problem so great.  And so it is with all of our solutions to supply our needs regarding sin, death, and judgment.
     Where are we to find the righteousness we need?  Where are we to find the solution to take away our sin and guilt?  We could say with the Israelites, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” (Exodus 24:7)  You may even try to do it, but you do not.  Like Philip, we only see the gravity of our problem.  Like Andrew, we only see how pathetic our solutions are.  Our sin still sticks.  Our judgment is deserved.  We still need deliverance from sin, from death, and from judgment.
     Jesus came from heaven to supply what is lacking before God.  If you desire to set foot in heaven, then you need to be holy.  If you want to be preserved from the torments of hell, then you need to be free of all sin.  If you want to escape the grave, then you need a refuge in death.  Jesus supplies your every need, and he gives you all that you need.
     Jesus continually did all the deeds that God’s Law demands.  Jesus’ holy, obedient life supplies the righteousness we need.  Jesus included you in the new covenant.  In baptism, Jesus sprinkled you in his blood and bestowed upon you that righteousness God demands.  If God sees you as righteous, then God is pleased with you.  Jesus supplies your every need. 
     But Jesus’ innocent life did not end up with praise and reward.  It ended with a cruel death.  More than that, it ended with a cursed death.  Jesus was crucified with our sins heaped upon him.  Sins don’t just go away.  They must be punished.  Jesus supplied your every need.  He was condemned for you – for your love of the world, for the cravings of your belly, for your discontent with God’s gifts and your lust for more.  Jesus suffered what he did not deserve so that you would not get what we deserve.  And why?  Because you needed it.  Your sins demand punishment.  You needed to have your sins taken away, and so Jesus has done it.  The blood he shed to pay for your sins was poured over you at your baptism.  Therefore, your sins are forgiven.  There is no condemnation for you.  You need a refuge in death and judgment, and Jesus that refuge.
     Jesus supplies your every need.  Jesus has – is! – the solution to all of your needs.  While he supplies you with your daily bread, he is not a king who simply fills your bellies and your homes with stuff.  He comes to deliver you from a world where all is dying, decaying, and disappointing.  He will deliver you to an eternal dwelling in heaven.  You could never earn it or buy it – anymore than you could feed a small town with a picnic basket full of food.  But Jesus supplies your every need, just as he supplied thousands with the meal they needed.
     You may have times of difficulty, struggles, and even desperation.  But you never fail to have a Savior-King who knows and loves you.  Jesus always gives enough.  His gifts are always good.  You always need them, and Jesus is always pleased to supply them.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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