Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Monday, May 28, 2018

Breaking News - Volume 8 of Luther's Sermons Is Finished at Amazon.
The Gems Mined from Luther's Sermons Will Be Sent Today


When I see this Veterans Honor rose in the garden, I recall the funniest story told by my wife's cousin Peter. He was on KP duty for some reason, but was forced to keep potato peeling and cleaning for an extremely long day. Peter was short and about 110 pounds. The sarge came in and wanted to keep him working hours more. Peter got excited about that and began yelling and waving his little potato knife in the process.

The sarge reported him for attacking him with a knife. When Peter repeated the entire experience to the officer, the man could not help but laugh about Peter being a threat, waving a little potato peeler and yelling in frustration at this big muscular sargeant. Peter was judged innocent, and he had us doubled over in laughter about the whole story.

Publishing is like that, because there may be a jealous someone who wants to make something out of nothing. But nevertheless, the Sermons are done and the Gems are finishing today. Certain events have made me decide to make all the published books free online, although I am not sure about the platform. Q may need to liberate Kindle before this is all done, but there are many, many options for ebooks, including DropBox.

Rest in Peace, Peter Ellenberger, one of five family members born in Europe,but having served in the US military.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Feast of Holy Trinity 2018


The Feast of the Holy Trinity, 2018

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The melodies are linked in the hymn name. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.

The Hymn # 246               Holy, Holy, Holy   
            
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel               
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Athanasian Creed             p. 53
The Sermon Hymn #251     We All Believe in One True God      


Nick at Night


The Communion Hymn #308            Invited Lord     
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657              Beautiful Savior  


            
 By Norma A. Boeckler

Luther’s Trinity Sermons Linked Here

   

KJV Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Pentecost Monday Gospel:

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

 By Norma A. Boeckler


Trinity Prayer

O Lord God, heavenly Father: We poor sinners confess that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that, left to ourselves, we die and perish in sin, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh and cannot see the kingdom of God. But we beseech Thee: Grant us Thy grace and mercy, and for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that being regenerate, we may firmly believe the forgiveness of sins, according to Thy promise in baptism; and that we may daily increase in brotherly love, and in other good works, until we at last obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2013/04/norma-boecklers-new-book-treasury-of.html




Background

Two Categories of Biblical Studies.

More details on the same subject.

Today's text is a good example of what I wrote before - Nick at Night - and a recently conversation made me think of it even more. The problem is this - people talk about the Bible without discussing the content of the Scriptures. The recent example concerned whether Matthew or Mark was written first and arguments about that topic, a subject I researched with all the best scholars, live and in print. Yale Professor Paul L. Holmer summarized it as remaining in the "about" mode - always rehearsing old arguments. Professor Lawrence Toombs (archeologist) called it "mixing the paints on the palette and never painting the picture."

The real meaning of the four Gospels is seeing them as a whole, not trying to prove something that lacks definitive evidence, especially when someone says, "Matthew was trying to do this..." or "Luke wanted to offer this message." The worst example is the group of scholars who cannot imagine the Apostle John writing the Fourth Gospel, so they give that Gospel no credibility. It was written so late, 300 years after Christ. So why do you say that? "Because Jesus never saw himself (Himself) as the Son of God. And - the text is soooo Hellenistic, and so philosophical."

The Fourth Gospel is precise about geographical details, showing knowledge of the area. The text is tied to the Books of Moses, not the philosophers of Greece. The earliest fragment of the New Testament is dated around 100 AD, so it could not have been written centuries later, according to their own experts.

The topic in John 3 is - how could Nicodemus know so much and still not know? We have many examples, religious and scientific, of people who accumulate a large body of publications supporting an idea without really examining it well.

For example - I can "prove" that the Church has always taught the Assumption of Mary and her Immaculate Conception, if you give me some time in a Vatican library. I used one in Columbus, Ohio for Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant. I can pick those sources that say, "those dogmas have always been taught by the Church." The section on Mary at that library was enormous. As Edward Preuss said when he became an influential Catholic editor, after teaching at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis - "Give me the sources and I can prove anything."

WELS has 60 or more essays that teach Justification without Faith, the opposite of what this Gospel lesson teaches. These sectarians can be funny, sometimes copying another's work and presenting it as original. They quote each other and never examine the actual texts or arguments. Yet "Justification" is clearly their favorite topic. They spend most of their time mixing paint, quoting only the recent officials who agree with them, always in the "about" mode, never teaching the Word.

Nick at Night


KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Here we have a perfect example of a holy man of his day, and he is quite sincere. He is a strict follower of the Law - a Pharisee. His name is Nicodemus, and he is a leader among the Jews. We do not know exactly why he came to Jesus by night, but it is likely from his responses to Jesus that he was a cautious in his approach, though he has the best possible attitude as a Jewish leader.

Nicodemus' opening statement is friendly and admiring. He gives Jesus credit for coming from God since the miracles show God has chosen Jesus. The beginning seems to be very promising with this warm confession. But just the opposite develops.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus' response is curt and hard, difficult to explain in light of Nicodemus' warm introduction and his desire to speak with Jesus. But this is not the way to convert people, most televangelists would say. Be friends, be winsome. Either market the message to their felt needs so they clamber into the Kingdom - or use logic so they have to concede it is the truth.

Jesus is saying, "You are completely wrong." His first response starts far away from Nicodemus, alienates and confuses the Jewish leader. "Except a man is born from above" - and Nicodemus clearly is not, so Nicodemus cannot see the Kingdom of God.

Notice they are discussing this in Greek, contrary to many claims they were using Aramaic. This is a Greek word-play. The word used by Jesus has the primary meaning of "from above" - anothen. εαν μη τις γεννηθη ανωθεν ano = above; then = from. anothen - from above.

The secondary meaning of the word is - "again", but that meaning for the Greek word is rare. Nicodemus is missing the obvious  in favor of the obscure meaning. palin is used in Greek for "again." As in palindrome - Otto, Bob, A man a plan a canal Panama.

This is God revealing His truth to Nicodemus, and all this truth was already recorded in the Scriptures, in Hebrew and translated into Greek. Nicodemus certainly knew Psalm 22 and 23, plus Isaiah 53. But he knew the outward message but not the truths revealed there. Likewise, Isaiah 7 and 9.

Therefore, how much attention today is also paid to the obscure and the imaginary, ignoring the plain-spoken truths of the Scriptures? The early Nicodemus meaning is still followed by many - "You must be born again," meaning "You must have an adult conversion experience and give us the place, time, and circumstances."

Jesus means "born from above." Jesus uses the term "from above" because so much of the Gospel concerns His incarnation, coming down from above, His resurrection, and His Ascension, His return to the Father's throne. This harmonizes with the manna from above, Jesus being the Bread of Life coming down from above, John 6.

We should always keep in mind that this dialogue is summarized in John 3:16ff.

Seeing the Kingdom of God is another way of saying that someone believes in Jesus as the Savior, understanding forgiveness, love, and salvation. That should sober up those who play with Scriptural words - You must believe as a child... Unless one believes as a child, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Those plain words ban the people who adore their own philosophical and rationalistic expressions, if they lack a child-like faith. They would reverse this and say, "Enough of that child-like faith. You must follow the zigs and zags of my reasoning and pause to admire my wisdom."

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

Instead of becoming part of Nicodemus thinking, Jesus has challenged the leader with divine teaching. The Pharisee is so knocked off his base that his answer is absurd in telling Jesus His answer makes no sense. In debate, this is called a Straw Man - you are telling me this absurd statement, put in other words, so it cannot be so.

In this Nicodemus represents all of mankind in trying to turn the Gospel into something else. In cinema, the only fair portraits of Jesus are those that only use the words of Scripture. The fancy scripts are the absurdities.

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Now that Jesus has vacated the false understanding of Nicodemus, He begins to fill the empty spaces with the Gospel. Nicodemus has an advantage, as Paul noted in Romans 3. He has the Promises of God, but he cannot see them clearly. 

The verily, verily introduction means we should pay close attention to these words. Unfortunately, English splits what is bound together by the lack of the article. As Lenski says, that lack of an article creates a hyphen:

  • I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the God-power of salvation for those who believe... Romans 1:16
  • Except a man be water-Spirit born, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
Spirit means Word because the Word always works with the Spirit and the Spirit always with the Word. "That is sound doctrine." Hoenecke. Baptism is symbolic of the new birth but it also is the new birth. God's Word always has an effect.

This declaration defines the work of conversion, including adults and infants. The Word converts babies in baptism itself, and adults receive baptism as the seal of God's work in the Word. 

The opposite is also true. Those who look for carnal rewards are carnal, and they cannot see the Kingdom until they have another look at what they think they know. A pastor told me he was not successful, though he preached faithfully, baptized, and communed. What he meant was this - his sect punished him for rebelling against their Church Growth fad. They turned against him and took away his members and his happiness. The Word is very effective when confessed against falsehood - it brings the cross.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

42. We have, accordingly, in this parable a beautiful picture which clearly presents to our eyes the process of this new birth. In the first place, there is the external office of the Word and the power which the Holy Spirit exerts through it. As there are in the wind these two features — the blowing, which is the wind itself, and the sound, which is heard without, though the blowing is not seen nor felt except by the person who receives the force of the wind — in like manner there are two features in the new birth; namely, the Word, which is a physical sound that one hears, and the Spirit, who operates with and by the Word. This power is not seen nor felt by anyone except him whom the Spirit seizes, and yet it certainly occurs wherever the external Word and baptism are agents. The Spirit, accordingly, can be seen and apprehended bodily, as it were, in this external institution, which provides us with a certain sign indicating where we are to look for him and where he operates, although the inward power is concealed to human eyes.

A basic fact of Luther is mostly overlooked today - he emphasized the work of the Church as preaching - not as vision-casting, dreaming, planning. organizing, soil-testing, and felt needs estimating. If very little real preaching is done, there is no sound, no Spirit at work in the Word.

We simply cannot tell what God will do with the Word. The preaching continues but it strikes the heart here and there, always bearing fruit, never predictable, as the Parable of the Sower shows so clearly.

The only thing predictable is this - when the work of preaching is done - and leveraged as we are able - God will have powerful effect. The leveraging can be very simple. Some have printed sermons and given them to friends or relatives. Others have forwarded them by email. They multiply over the Net and through Facebook.

It is not the person but the Gospel that has the effect. For those baptized, the Spirit draws us to the Word and we gladly hear it. For others, the Gospel is so contrary to their wisdom and experience, they feel the foundations being knocked out from their perceptions. In each and every case, it is the Word conveying Jesus to the individual and the individual to Jesus. But if someone offers peanuts and popcorn, it is conveying food to the person and the person to food, purely material and only effective in weight gain.

 By Norma A. Boeckler


9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

The divine truth is so contrary to man's wisdom, even when attached to religious symbols, that Nicodemus was astounded. We can see the temptation to stick to the accepted bromides and easy solutions of mankind. 

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Jesus is saying here, "Pay attention to every Word here. You are a great teacher and do not know this? I am come down from Heaven to teach you the true kindly nature of God, to bear witness to God the Father, but you do not believe Me. I have started with the basics, and you do not believe. How can you grasp the eternal truths?"

Look at what mankind has done in the name of finding the "real Jesus." The Fourth Gospel is ignored - with the purest, simplest message of all. It is like having a biography of a great military hero, like Julius Caesar, and telling every detail of his life, but stopping at his military campaigns and rule over Rome. As if to say, "Make up your own mind about the rest." We read little details mined from the dusty shelves of academic libraries, but nothing about the Faith that spread across the world in a generation.

Jesus was Jewish. Yes, I read that before. He was a rabbi and was called a rabbi. Yes, go on. And He was kind to people. Please, more. "And the rest we do not know for sure." It reminds me of students who are not prepared for their speech and simply make up some vague words or read an article from the Net (sometimes cut up into "note cards". Ha.) 

If the preacher does not believe, he does not know. If he believes in the denomination and preaches the denomination, he speaks of earthly things with a beginning and an end. How many remember the Melanchthon Synod? No? It is gone. The Olive Branch Synod had a beginning and an end too.

Jesus is doing what He assigned to the Holy Spirit in the future, John 16:8. He is preaching against unFaith. If Jesus told a Jewish leader he must believe, and told the disciples they must preach against the sin of unbelief, then that message ought to be taught with complete clarity.

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

We can see that Jesus is uniting the Old Testament witness with the Gospel. God was preparing the Jewish people for this, ever since Adam and Eve, ever since Moses and the Exodus. The Exodus is the central event in the Old Testament, but the essential message is the Gospel. Abraham believed he would start a line leading to the Messiah - and his faith was counted as righteousness.

There is a sermon in three verses. The Only One who can ascend to heaven is the One Who Descended from Heaven.

Next is a supposed diversion, but it is not. Verse 14 is the Gospel message. The Israelites were dying in the desert, from the poisonous bites of serpents. Nothing helped them until a brass serpent was raised before them, as commanded by God.


Numbers 21:7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

This great miracle, which seems so odd by itself, was the preparation for the Atoning death of Jesus (likewise the sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, Genesis 22).

The Son will become sin to pay for the sins of the world, just as the serpent figure turned back the deadly toxins that came from their sinful rebellion.

Luther:
66. Now, he introduces a beautiful allegory from Numbers 21:6-9, which aptly depicts Christ. When the Jews were journeying in the desert, the way being long and bread and water failing, they murmured against Moses and became very impatient. Then it was that God sent fiery serpents among them, which bit the people. In the countries toward the South there are great deserts, where no food nor drink is found, and there are also multitudes of noxious vermin. The serpents on this occasion were a particularly vicious kind, for their bite caused such fever and such an unquenchable thirst that people had to die. For this reason they are called fiery serpents, such as the Greeks called Dipsades. There may, however, be another reason for the term, for we read that some of the serpents in those countries are so fiery that when they hiss or give forth breath, there issues, as it were, sheer fire from them.

67. On account of this cruel affliction of the Jews there was much pitiful crying and calling among the people to Moses, but he could give no advice until God took pity upon them and said to Moses: Make thee a brazen serpent, like those which are biting the people, and set it upon a standard.

Every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live. “And Moses,” so the story runs, “made a serpent of brass and set it upon the standard, and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived.”

68. Behold now, how Christ has been typified in this story. In the first place, the main point is that the Jews, when bitten by serpents, could find no aid not remedy until they were helped by looking at such a simple thing as the brazen serpent. This serpent had the appearance of a real serpent, but it was dead and without venom, yea, it was salutary. Not that the brass could help them; what made it efficient was the fact that there was affixed to it God’s order and this promise: Whoever is bitten and looks at the serpent, shall live. This word was wrapped about the serpent, and by virtue of it the serpent helped the people.
69. Now, Christ makes application to himself and says: “As Moses lifted up the serpent, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” etc. This is the true explanation and interpretation of this allegory, or figure: We, too, have been stung or bitten by the deadly fang of the devil, which is sin. As St. Paul says, sin is a fiery, poisonous bite, or sting. If the poison enters the conscience, there is never any rest. Sin hurls against us and sets upon us death; death drives man, causing him to feel that he is in a veritable hell. 


15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

This lesson ends with a simple message - that faith in Jesus is salvation and eternal life. What everyone should remember is that this dialogue - Shaking Up Nicodemus - is concluded with the Little Gospel - which I posted in gold, as Luther suggested.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 By Norma A. Boeckler

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Laetare 2018


Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2018

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #9           O Day of Rest and Gladness 
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 
The Gospel 
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #316    O Living Bread from Heaven 

Bread from Heaven

The Communion Hymn #508    Thou Whose Almighty Word
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 50             Lord Dismiss Us 

KJV Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Fourth Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son didst feed five thousand men in the desert with five loaves and two fishes: We beseech Thee to abide graciously also with us in the fullness of Thy blessing. Preserve us from avarice and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things perceive Thy fatherly goodness, through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God world without end. Amen.


By Norma A. Boeckler

Bread from Heaven

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

In this miracle, God provides in a miraculous way, without anyone imagining how they would be taken care of. This mass of people followed Jesus out, without considered the practical consequences of a multitude being where there was no food.

This miracle is a wonderful way to consider how God works, because both sides had reason to panic and be filled with dread. The multitude came out without food for the journey home. They were attracted to the miracles, stirring up their faith and their hopes. The Messianic literature promised that these things would be true of the Christ. Faith in Jesus was growing, and so was idle curiosity.

3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

The vantage point of Jesus and the disciples allowed them to see the progress of the multitude as they walked around the Sea of Galilee. The practical ones would wonder and ask, "What will we do with all these people when they run out of food?" People forget that the desert is just as demanding of calories as a winter day is. People burn up calories in the sun, and begin growing weak. They had water available at the oasis, but water on an empty stomach is not satisfying at all.

But they were there because of faith, however slight, in this great Teacher and miracle-worker. As children, and perhaps as adults, we think about being able to see great miracles like this one. I walk down our little street and see the miracle of life bursting into bloom in the spring. That life is so completely hidden that everything seems dead. I watched the plans go into their winter sleep in the yard. The parsley was the last to go, bright and green for a long time into December, then knocked out by a hard frost.

I thought, once again, "Roses are the ugliest plants of all in winter, with nothing to show except brown branches and thorns." The sun followed the rain and all of them burst into tiny leaves, more red than green. 

4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

Now the appearances are bad. Anyone can figure that out. The crowd thinks, "We can find plenty of water, but what about food?" The disciples looked at the multitude and Jesus expressed their dread and foreboding. "Where do we buy enough food?" - which is really asking, "How is it possible to provide for them out here?"

7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Philip said, "Impossible!" but in a roundabout way. A lot of bread would hardly be sufficient, and there is no Panera in sight. We were driving Team Jackson in a big van, out in the Arizona desert, and we had a similar situation with fuel. The gauge was going down to E and no town was in sight. When one popped up, it seemed so far away. The needle kept dipping downward, and thoughts of roasting within sight of the town kept dominating my thoughts.

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

This is a classic case, certainly one followed carefully verses 8 and 9 only. "We have a little, but that nothing compared to what we need." Despair. Gloom. Pessimism. That is so natural to us that it is remarkable when people trust in those modest or even miniscule amounts to accomplish anything.

Jesus did not explain but commanded them to seat the multitude in the grassy oasis. We know plenty of water was there, because grass does not grow unless there is plenty of water. Five thousand sat down. 

This enormous number shows us that the miracle will be a great one, far beyond our ability to predict. Rationalism tries to explain it, but that is ridiculous. (That is the hiding the lunch scenario, which means they had tons of food hidden away, so much that they had large amounts of leftovers. This would be called the Lesson of the Hidden Lunches Shared Because the Boy Was Generous.) So much for unbelief, which reduces a miracle to an absurd morality tale.

11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

In giving thanks and distributing the bread, Jesus is foreshadowing the Last Supper. Luther took chapter 6 away from Zwingli because the Swiss rationalist wanted to make the Lord's Supper merely symbolic. The place to start is the Consecration in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians. Four basic examples eliminate what Zwingli would like to promote. Thus chapter 6 is not primarily about Holy Communion but certainly reflects on it in the future. All Scripture passages are in harmony with each other, so that is always kept in mind. The bright passages, as they say, illuminate the dark (for us) verses. 

To start with a dark passage is like saying, "I can speed because people do that in emergencies. If it is right for them, it is right for me."

The point of this miracle is to show us that the Word of God accomplishes great miracles with little or nothing. All the great works of God have started with little or nothing, often with weak and despised people too. Lutherans have forgotten the Inner Mission movement, which carried over into America from Europe. Theodor Fliedner was the least likely. One traveled to gain money to keep his parish alive. That inspired him to train young women as deaconesses, which led through Florence Nightingale (another unusual figure) to the modern nursing movement.


 Theodor Fliedner founded Kaiserwerth.
 Florence Nightingale

Wiki:
"Later in 1850, she visited the Lutheran religious community at Kaiserswerth-am-Rhein in Germany, where she observed Pastor Theodor Fliedner and the deaconesses working for the sick and the deprived. She regarded the experience as a turning point in her life, and issued her findings anonymously in 1851; The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, for the Practical Training of Deaconesses, etc. was her first published work.[15] She also received four months of medical training at the institute, which formed the basis for her later care."

The boosters and cheerleaders want to point to the persons, but it was God's will that these two unusual characters accomplish so much in relieving the pain and disease of vast multitudes. And this spread across America in various nursing homes, orphanages, and hospitals - and the training of nurses. We used Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis, which was started by the German Evangelical-Reformed (now UCC) leaders. These institutions multiplied until people took them for granted. And it all came from so little.

This miracle shows the efficacy of the Word. Jesus commanded and the miracle was accomplished, simply by thanking or blessing and distributing. 

Luther:
3. That he now takes the five loaves and gives thanks etc., teaches that nothing is too small and insignificant for him to do for his followers, and he can indeed so bless their pittance that they have an abundance, whereas even the rich have not enough with all their riches; as Psalm 34:11 says: “They that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing; but the rich must suffer hunger.” And Mary in her song of praise says: “The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” Luke 1:53.

4. Again, that he tells them so faithfully to gather up the fragments, teaches us to be frugal and to preserve and use his gifts, in order that we may not tempt God. For just as it is God’s will that we should believe when we have nothing and be assured that he will provide; so he does not desire to be tempted, nor to allow the blessings he has bestowed to be despised, or lie unused and spoil, while we expect other blessings from heaven by means of miracles. Whatever he gives, we should receive and use, and what he does not give, we should believe and expect he will bestow.


12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 

Nothing is wasted in God's Kingdom. I have plenty of opportunities to teach that in our neighborhood. I point out that Creation principles will serve people far better and cost less than their solutions from the chemical toxins of the stores. 

"Look close to the flowers on a calm sunny day. Those little Flower Flies are destroying pests. Do you want to spray them and kill off two generations at once? Spiders are all over the garden if you leave them alone. Spray once or use them 24/7? God designed these beneficial creatures for a purpose.

Many different conversations pop up as people consider the infinite number of dependencies within God's Creation. First He created through the Word, with perfect engineering, and perfect management. The intricacies of timing and attraction fill books.

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

It needs to be remembered that as much as Christ did, people still got His role wrong. Thus the greatest that God does is often misunderstood and manipulated into something bade.