John 6:1-15 – Feeding of the 5,000
Vicar Zachary Markevitz


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: The feeding of the 5,000 happened during Passover. The celebrating of Passover commemorates the Israelites freedom from slavery in Egypt. The beginning of this commemoration is marked by a ceremonial dinner called the Seder. This is a time to celebrate freedom with food and wine. Yet, despite it being Passover, Jesus saw “a large crowd coming toward him” without food.


This large crowd had seen the signs that Jesus had done. He had distinguished himself from others and now this crowd was seeking him. Scripture tells us that Jesus “knew what he would do.” He immediately had compassion for the crowd. He was concerned with their well-being. Instead of sending them away to the closest town for food, Jesus decided he would provide for and sustain them. He cared more and sooner for them than they did for themselves.


Jesus’ great love extended toward the crowd, but also to his disciples. As the crowd was approaching, Jesus tested Philip, “Where are we going to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Jesus brought to light Philip’s sin. Philip failed to trust Jesus fully. We also see this sin in Andrew. Philip and Andrew were unable to feed the 5,000. This task was impossible for them. Jesus’ test was not to trap Philip, but was out of love for his disciples. They thought that they didn’t have enough means to provide food. They didn’t have enough money for “two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” They were only left with an insignificant amount of bread and fish. They could not plan or find a way to provide for the hunger that this crowd would inevitably face.

Fourth Sunday In Lent - March 15, 2015
John 6:1-15 – Feeding of the 5,000
Vicar Zachary Markevitz


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: The feeding of the 5,000 happened during Passover. The celebrating of Passover commemorates the Israelites freedom from slavery in Egypt. The beginning of this commemoration is marked by a ceremonial dinner called the Seder. This is a time to celebrate freedom with food and wine. Yet, despite it being Passover, Jesus saw “a large crowd coming toward him” without food.


This large crowd had seen the signs that Jesus had done. He had distinguished himself from others and now this crowd was seeking him. Scripture tells us that Jesus “knew what he would do.” He immediately had compassion for the crowd. He was concerned with their well-being. Instead of sending them away to the closest town for food, Jesus decided he would provide for and sustain them. He cared more and sooner for them than they did for themselves.


Jesus’ great love extended toward the crowd, but also to his disciples. As the crowd was approaching, Jesus tested Philip, “Where are we going to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Jesus brought to light Philip’s sin. Philip failed to trust Jesus fully. We also see this sin in Andrew. Philip and Andrew were unable to feed the 5,000. This task was impossible for them. Jesus’ test was not to trap Philip, but was out of love for his disciples. They thought that they didn’t have enough means to provide food. They didn’t have enough money for “two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” They were only left with an insignificant amount of bread and fish. They could not plan or find a way to provide for the hunger that this crowd would inevitably face.


Jesus had the crowd sit down in a place “with much grass.” The prophet Isaiah spoke, “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it.” It is the Lord who cares for the grass, and with even more care, He provides for His people throughout the generations. As grass withers, so do God’s people, but they are called to trust in God’s providence. The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is not a one-time occurrence of God providing for His people. God has always cared for His people.


In Exodus, God provided for the Israelites. Moses and Aaron said to them, “[Y]ou shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” The Lord said to them, “At twilight you shall eat meat and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” God had liberated the Israelites from the Egyptians and He provided and sustained them with food in the wilderness.


Now, God was again providing and sustaining them with food. In the same way that the Israelites lacked faith, Philip and Andrew lacked faith in that God would provide at all times. God continues to teach that “nothing is too small and insignificant for Him to do for [His people].”  In this miracle of feeding the 5,000, Jesus is teaching his disciples that He is the same God who fed the Israelites in the wilderness.


We are like Philip and Andrew. We lack faith. When a problem presents itself, we try to solve it. Immediately, in a crisis, we turn to our finances and other means. When 200 denarii is not enough, or our insignificant amount of bread and fish is not enough, then we begin to worry. Will there be employment for me when I graduate? Will I ever be able to pay off all my loans? Do I have job security? Will my retirement be sufficient for all my needs? Will my children have enough money for college? And when we are reminded of Jesus’ words, “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” We hear those words and our Old Adam rationalizes our sinful behavior, “I’m not worried about this or that, but I’m concerned about it.” As if we can trick God; or as if our grumbling is more justified than the grumbling of the Israelites in the wilderness. Daily, we lack faith.


In our Epistle reading this morning, the Galatians lacked faith. They heard and received the Gospel of Christ from Paul and received freedom from the Law! Soon after Paul’s departure, the Galatians worried about their salvation. They fell into false teaching that Jesus’ work on the cross started their salvation, but works of the Law would complete it. Once children of freedom became slaves to sin, their worries and anxieties led them to cling onto their own works and not trust the hands of the Father and His hold of their salvation. The Galatians were not able to buy themselves out of slavery. Their 200 denarii and their insignificant amount of bread and fish was not enough!


“Brothers [and sisters], we are not children of the slave but of the free…” Even in our crisis, Jesus knew what He would do. The Law binds us, so He fulfills it. He takes our worries and anxieties upon Himself. He cares more and sooner for us than we do for ourselves. He takes our insignificant amount of bread and fish and fills our hunger, and we have leftovers! God is literally with us. Our daily bread includes all things that we have received. God gives us all things “that has to do with the support and needs of the body [and life].” When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” the Greek word for daily also includes the coming days. Jesus did not only feed the 5,000, but they had leftovers! In this miracle, the leftover bread is a sign of the abundance we have in Christ! He provides and sustains in love. He acts out of love because God is love. The greatest loving act He gave to us is when He was bound and nailed by the Law and lifted  up on the cross. The sign of the cross is the greatest sign of God coming into the world. After the people saw the feeding of the 5,000, they wanted to make Jesus their king, but His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom. He is more than a prophet, but “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The Law that binds us brought death to Him. When death seemed to be too big of a crisis, Jesus defeated death. As God bestows upon us the fruit of His death and resurrection, He fills us with His forgiveness.


The Passover is completed. Jesus is the Passover. He proclaims, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me shall not hunger…Whoever eats this bread shall live forever.” Jesus comes to us as the Bread of Life. We find forgiveness in this Bread. As He sat the people in a place with much grass before feeding them, signifying how God provides for His people. Now we sit in a place with much forgiveness as Christ continues to feed us. For many of us here, we have been baptized into His abundant grace before we could speak our first words. He cares more and sooner for us than we do for ourselves. We approach the altar and we receive the continuing forgiveness that all God’s people receive in the Bread of Life. Our worries and anxieties are cast upon our King. We have been crowned with His goodness. We are now “children of promise” and inherit the eternal kingdom of God through Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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