FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT – MARCH 6, 2016
TEXT: JOHN 6:1-15; GAL. 4:21-31; EX. 16:2-21
THE PASSOVER LAMB PROVIDES THE BREAD OF LIFE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Gal 1:3-5)


Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews was at hand. St. John gives us this weighty anchor of time for Jesus’ sign of feeding. Passover!  Now the Passover…was at hand. Seeing other signs that He was doing on the sick – throngs were following Jesus. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Would Philip pass the test? 


There were no provisions for even a snack in this place – much less the Passover Feast. Yet here is Jesus – across the water – on a Mountain - some 70 miles from Jerusalem. A crowd of 5000 was coming toward Him. These thousands were not selecting lambs and preparing Passover food to eat with their families. These thousands were not at the temple where the blood of thousands of Passover Lambs was shed. And yet – the Passover…was at hand.

FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT – MARCH 6, 2016
TEXT: JOHN 6:1-15; GAL. 4:21-31; EX. 16:2-21
THE PASSOVER LAMB PROVIDES THE BREAD OF LIFE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Gal 1:3-5)


Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews was at hand. St. John gives us this weighty anchor of time for Jesus’ sign of feeding. Passover!  Now the Passover…was at hand. Seeing other signs that He was doing on the sick – throngs were following Jesus. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Would Philip pass the test? 


There were no provisions for even a snack in this place – much less the Passover Feast. Yet here is Jesus – across the water – on a Mountain - some 70 miles from Jerusalem. A crowd of 5000 was coming toward Him. These thousands were not selecting lambs and preparing Passover food to eat with their families. These thousands were not at the temple where the blood of thousands of Passover Lambs was shed. And yet – the Passover…was at hand.

Jesus had just made connection between His person and saving work and God’s rescue of His people in the Exodus through Moses (John 5:39-40; 46-47). You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life…Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. Of the one whom Moses wrote – St. John also wrote - recording His way-preparer’s gracious proclamation – Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.


That’s the wonder of Jesus’ sign – He is the Lamb of God. Feeding the thousands as much as they wanted it can also be said of Him - The Lord is my shepherd – I shall not want. That’s the wonder of these thousands reclining on the bountiful green grass. The Lord is my Shepherd …He makes me to lie down in green pastures. The Good Shepherd feeds His flock a Passover feast pointing to a future meal. In His future meal His people will partake of His own sacrificial death – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.


If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. The blood of the lambs provided protection from death at the first Passover in the Exodus. Then the lambs were eaten by God’s command. So the blood of the Lamb of God will provide protection from ultimate death – the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). So also the Lamb of God – our Passover – will be eaten – 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 (v. 54-55).


This feeding trumpets - The Lord is my Shepherd. Even that title “Shepherd” connects closely to this marvelous sign of feeding. In Psalm 23 it is a loaded word – full of blessing. It is a messianic term almost equal to King. One might rightly say – The Lord is my Shepherd-King. Consider Israel’s nationalistic hope connected to the Passover – hope for a second Moses to free them from the new Pharaoh of Roman occupation. Consider the reaction of those reclining in green grass and feasting from the hand of Jesus. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!”  Perceiving then that there were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. What a king they would have made of him – a savior from invaders – a provider of economic prosperity/bread and meat as much as you want – free health care with perfect healing – and more. With this self-fashioned king you could truly name it and claim it.


But such expectations are unrealistic of the Shepherd-King. Their expectations of Him were earth bound – controlled by political and contemporary need – their appetite for the things of the world. Jesus’ hasty retreat did not end their efforts to force Him to do their bidding. The next day they hunted for him. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when did you come here?  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has set his seal (v. 25-27).


Dear Christians are you laboring for food that perishes or for food that endures to eternal life – a gift of Jesus and the Father?  Labor for perishable food is covetous, worrisome, and never fully satisfied. Grumbling is often close at hand. Labor that flows from the gift of eternal life is faith in action. It is the fear of Yahweh – repenting - receiving forgiveness - responding to the Shepherd’s care. This labor involves tribulation but also trust and joy and peace in that which goes beyond human calculation.

 

Are you laboring for food that perishes?  Are you tempted to fashion Jesus into your own personal Jesus to meet a checklist of unfulfilled desires. There is this name it and claim it nature in each of us. There is in each of us a nature that fantasizes – about how smoothly things should go for us or about how good things once were. Recall Israel daydreaming about the meat pots of Egypt which they would have rarely ever received as slaves of Pharaoh.


Are you laboring for food that perishes?  There is in each of us a nature tied to what we see and feel – just as was Philip - who failed Jesus’ test. Where are we to buy bread…?  Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”  He was willing to put over half a year’s salary into his calculations, but he did not put the Shepherd-King into the equation.


Philip had seen Jesus perform many signs. He had heard Jesus preach perfectly God’s will – also about His coming in the flesh. It is easy for us to think that Philip should have trusted Him and said something like – “You are the Lord of nature - You give every good and perfect gift – I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, trusting only Thee.”  It is easier for us to think that than for us to fully trust God ourselves when distress and adversity and helplessness come to us. So whatever weakness – whatever aching – whatever hunger is testing you, note Jesus’ answer to the test question He gave Philip.


He said, Have the people sit down.”…Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks he distributed them…so also the fish, and much as they wanted. What a wondrous, bountiful, beautiful sign. The Lord is my Shepherd-King, (the Messiah) I shall not want. You see, everything here hangs on Jesus – as it always does. He initiates. He breaks. He gives. His is the host of this Passover Feast. He is the answer to the question He asks Philip concerning bread. As He would say on the morrow – “Truly, truly…it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For, the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (v.32-33)  He gives life by His death – which would occur when another Passover was at hand. He gives life not from a mountainside of green grass but from the dead wood of the cross. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink…Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.


Beloved, whatever threatens you, whatever troubles you, you are right to say The Lord is my Shepherd-King. The Lord is my shepherd – he leads me beside still waters. You have been baptized by the Good Shepherd – the Lamb of God. Those baptismal waters combined with God’s Word are your resting place – waters of quietness for your conscience. As God led the people of the Exodus out of captivity in Egypt through water, even so He leads you in daily freedom through these waters of rest.  


You are right to say, The Lord is my Shepherd-King – He restores my soul. The Hebrew root for restores is the one for repentance – for turning. The Shepherd-King restores your soul by turning you from your self-fashioned kings to the faithfulness of His voice and the forgiveness food that He gives. He is here now to prepare His table for you in the presence of your enemies – Satan – the world with all of its false kings – your name it and claim it nature. They cannot harm you for as the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds His people. But you say, “I keep failing the test of trusting Him at all time and in all trials.”.  Ah yes, but He passed through death and hell to make you His own. He who will raise you up on the last day Himself rose from the house of death to continue serving you His life-giving word – His body and His blood!  Jesus Priceless Treasure – Jesus will not fail you! 


Beloved of God – you are right to say – The Lord is my Shepherd-King – I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. You are children of promise – children of the free woman. The Jerusalem above is free and she is your mother. That is also why – whatever weighs you down – whatever saddens your heart – you are right to say -  I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”  Peace be within your walls and security within your towers. 


Now the Passover…was at hand. Jesus…himself knew what he would do. By faith you see the sign that the Lamb of God - your Shepherd-King has done – a sign that reveals God’s mind and work in the Messiah for you. In faith you now receive the gifts your Shepherd King continues to give. You are right to trust Him -for Jesus Himself knows what He is doing – for you!

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a